New research linking aspartame to cancer in some individuals has sparked a flurry of commentary, including an “apology” from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard University teaching facility, for promoting the results.
The Harvard hospital originally sent out a press release with the headline: “The truth isn’t sweet when it comes to artificial sweeteners.” Alas, just half an hour before the release of the study, the hospital suddenly got cold feet, issuing the following statement:
“Upon review of the findings, the consensus of our scientific leaders is that the data is weak, and that BWH Media Relations was premature in the promotion of this work. We apologize for the time you have invested in this story.”
According to Erin McDonough senior vice president of communication and public affairs, this was “the first time something like this had ever happened in her 25 years of working in media relations.”
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NBC News stated:
“Not all science deserves publicity. Some is not done well. Some comes to equivocal conclusions and serves solely to alert other researchers of the need for further study. The research… about a potential cancer from aspartame falls squarely in that second category. If such a study does get attention, it can often increase the confusion and anger that many people feel about science in general – and the study of possible risks and benefits of our diet, in particular.”
The health statistics for nearly 48,000 men and over 77,000 women over the age of 20 were reviewed for the featured study. They found that men who consumed more than one diet soda per day had an increased risk of developing multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Interestingly enough, this association was not found in women.