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The New York Times reported over the weekend about the continuing controversy about aspartame, the popular artificial sweetener, which according to an Italian researcher may cause cancer.

According to the Times, his “research found that the sweetener was associated with unusually high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers in rats that had been given doses of it starting at what would be equivalent to four to five 20-ounce bottles of diet soda a day for a 150-pound person. The study, which involved 1,900 laboratory rats and cost $1 million, was conducted at the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences, a nonprofit organization that studies cancer-causing substances…”

While many in the food industry have dismissed the findings as inaccurate, the “findings have energized a vociferous group of researchers, health advocates and others who say they are convinced that aspartame is a toxin associated with a variety of health troubles, including headaches, dizziness, blindness and seizures.”

At the very least, some say, there needs to be additional research into aspartame’s effects.

Aspartame is sold under the brand names Nutra-Sweet and Equal and is found in such popular products as Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Snapple and Sugar Free Kool-Aid, and it is consumed by hundreds of millions of people consume it worldwide. Hence the resistance by some to further studies – last year, aspartame was a $570 million business.
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