Leukaemia and lymphoma link to Nutrasweet


My regular readers will know I am not a fan of artificial sweeteners, mostly because of the side effects linked to them and the fact that because the body does not recognise them as sugar, it is more inclined to seek it out in other forms – in other words it won’t help you lose weight and keep it off.

Since 2005 we have known that there is a link between lymphoma, leukaemia and aspartame and it has had FDA approval since 1981. You will find it in literally thousands of products from food and soft drinks through less likely items like vitamins. You will find it on the supermarket shelves under several different brand names including NutraSweet, Equal Measure, and Spoonful. Since it was first approved there have been a string of complaints from consumers over symptoms such as migraines, dizziness, insomnia, joint pain, memory loss, hives, rash, abdominal cramping, hallucinations, and seizures. There were also some deaths reported related to aspartame

Earlier this year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reported that aspartame showed no carcinogenic potential at the allowable daily intake (ADI) of 40/mg/kg but personally I think the wisest course is to avoid it altogether. To date there are over 900 studies done, with the most recent in May 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which investigated the link between formaldehyde and lymph cancer. You may only associate its use in embalming bodies, but a 2007 study showed that it linked to aspartame intake.

Aspartame turns into formaldehyde in the body, but it was previously thought that this was then quickly eliminated until a 1998 study showed that dietary aspartame binds to tissues in protein. It was found in liver, kidney, and blood and the report suggested that the build up of aspartame was cumulative and it is this that causes more damage over time.

Since 1987 formaldehyde has been listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen and is also linked to birth defects, and environmental allergies. In fact if you are thinking of starting a family you might want to pay attention to James Bowen, MD who wrote a provocative article entitled ‘Aspartame Murders Infants’ and who has said that it is destructive of the fertility process as it both inhibits female sexual response and induces male sexual dysfunction.

Natural alternatives for sweetness such as Perfect Sweet mentioned above, honey and Stevia, which is sold as a supplement, are worth seeking out.

New evidence of infection link to childhood Leukaemia


Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancers of the blood such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. UK researchers have for the first time identified the molecule that stimulates leukaemia to develop in children, according to a study published in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research have observed that pre-leukaemic stem cells multiplied substantially at the expense of normal cells when exposed to a molecule produced in the body called TGF.

TGF is triggered as a normal response by the body to infection and so the new finding provides the first experimental evidence as to how common infections might trigger childhood leukaemia.

“We had already identified that a genetic mutation occurring in the womb created these pre-leukaemic cells,” Dr Anthony Ford from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) says. “But we have been looking for a trigger that could send these cells down the pathway to leukaemia. We believe TGF is part of that missing link.”

In a study of identical twin girls last year, ICR scientists discovered a genetic mutation – the fusion of the TEL (ETV6) and AML1 (RUNX1) genes – was responsible for initiating childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in the womb.

This mutation means pre-leukaemic cells grow in the bone marrow as a silent time bomb that can stay in the body for up to 15 years, but requires other factors to convert into leukaemia. Evidence suggests the mutation may be present in as many as one in 100 babies,but only about one in 100 of those children with the mutation then go on to develop leukaemia.

The latest ICR study, funded by Leukaemia Research, found TGF creates conditions that allow the pre-leukaemic cells to multiply. This increases the chance that some will become even further damaged in a way that results in the child developing leukaemia. Before this study, there had been only circumstantial evidence to implicate infections in the progression from a child carrying pre-leukaemic cells to actually having leukaemia. There was no evidence of the mechanism by which this might happen. While infection is clearly only one factor in triggering progression, this study greatly increases the strength of evidence for its role in the commonest form of childhood leukaemia.

It also gives hope for the development of more effective early diagnosis and treatment for childhood leukaemia.