The "results call for urgent re-examination of permissible exposure levels of APM (aspartame) in both food and beverages, especially to protect children," read the final sentence of the recently published research paper, "Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukeamias in rats."
The paper, published in the European Journal of Oncology, details the findings of researchers from the Ramazzini Institute in Italy who investigated the effects of various doses of aspartame on the health of 1,800 rats for their full life span.
The study included a group of rats designated as the "control" group who recived no aspartame in their diet and six groups fed various levels of aspartame in their diet each day. The findings are disturbing - so disturbing that the European Food Safety Authority is already investigating the study to establish whether there are any implications for human health.
The researchers found:
- Female rats ingesting aspartame had a statistically significant increase in lymphoma and leukeamia
- Male rats fed the highest dose also had an increase in the incidence of lymphoma and leukeamia
- Even at the lowest dose of aspartame, there was a 62% increase in lymphoma and leukemia in the aspartame fed rats when compared with the control rats
- While not statistically significant, brain tumors were reported in the experimental rats while no tumors were found in the control group
- Even though the aspartame groups ate less calories each day, both the control rats and the experimental groups had similar body weight
- The experimental rats fed the highest doses of aspartame had noticable changes in the color of their fur
All levels of aspartame fed to the experimental rats - from the lowest doses to the highest - were within levels comparable to potential levels of human intake.
Aspartame is found in over 6,000 foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals in the United States, many which are specifically designed for use by children.
Before publication, the journal had seven experts review the data in anticipation of a storm of controversy. The Ramazzini Institute sent its first results to the European Food Safety Authority. EFSA, as reported by the BBC, confirmed that it would be asking its expert scientific panel on food additives to review the results "as a matter of high priority, in the context of the previous extensive safety data available on aspartame".