Industry damns sucralose study at cancer conference

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Sweet nothing in Soffritti's work?
Sweet nothing in Soffritti's work?
Research led by the controversial Italian scientist, Dr Morando Soffriti, linking the artificial sweeteners sucralose and aspartame to cancer, was presented today at the Children with Cancer science conference in London; a move industry is damning “irresponsible”.

Soffritti presented several older studies on aspartame but also revealed findings from his latest research on sucralose, though he noted that the  presented data had yet to be statistically evaluated, and thus currently remains unpublished.

He told attendees that 134 male and female Swiss mice had been fed with 99.4% purity sucralose at varying concentrations from prenatal life to death. The first results indicate that “sucralose in our experimental conditions induces a dose-related incidence of leukaemia in males.”

“On the basis of this study a second study needs to be conducted,”​ he said, and “we believe that action must be taken to review the present regulation governing the use of both aspartame and sucralose.”

Industry has joined forces in ousting the scientific research as “false”​ and “flawed”​ and damned Soffritti’s decision to present this at the conference as “irresponsible”​ and “inappropriate”​ for a scientist.

Flawed, rejected, old science

“This study, by a laboratory whose work has been dismissed by regulatory agencies, seems designed to produce scary but entirely false allegations,”​ Tate & Lyle said.

“It has not been reviewed by independent scientists, has not been published for independent review and does not follow internationally agreed scientific procedures,”​ it said.

Soffritti has been leading long-term carcinogenicity studies into aspartame, and now sucralose, since 2005 at the European Ramazzini Foundation ​(ERF) - a private research institute in Bologna, Italy.

The work of the institute has long been called into question by industry and regulatory authorities and discredited widely; by numerous ESFA panels, the FDA, the New Zealand and French Food Safety Authorities (NZFSA and ANSES), along with the UK’s department of health’s committee on the Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC).

Professor Andy Renwick, from the Faculty of Medicine and the UK’s University of Southampton, noted that Soffritti acknowledged these reviews “but ‘forgot’ to mention that EFSA had concluded they do not impact the safety,”​ of products.

“Of course he wouldn’t acknowledge the EFSA’s rejection at the conference,”​ Bob Peterson, VP of regulatory affairs at Tate & Lyle, told FoodNavigator.com. 

Meanwhile an Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe spokesperson said “there is no truth or science in the allegations he is making… we’re talking about a piece of non-science.”

“Bad science needs to be called for what it is and excellent science will always trump,”​ they added.

Peterson noted that “industry is familiar”​ with Soffriti’s “frustrating”​ way of working; going to press first and avoiding standard procedure.

Irresponsible scaremongering

Regrettably, Soffritti has chosen to “cause alarm by discussing the results of his discredited research at a conference that is focused on helping the parents and families of vulnerable and sick children,”​ Frances Hunt, secretary general of the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) said.

A spokesperson from the conference organiser, Children with Cancer UK, said that Soffritti had been invited by the conference committee, made up of independent experts - adding that “it is very common for unpublished data and research to be presented at conferences such as this.”

The Ajinomoto spokesperson said despairingly that “it’s about time the scientific community called out activities like this…Misinforming and scaring consumers is entirely inappropriate.”

Is sucralose safe?

In the conference’s Q&A session, Soffriti told attendees that his studies showed that drinking Diet Coke can be linked to increased mammary cancer in female mice. The International Sweeteners Association and the British Soft Drinks Association came together in condemning such claims linking low calorie sweeteners and the development of cancer.

A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said it would not be taking action following Soffritti’s presentation.

Sweeteners are a well-regulated sector across Europe, the FSA said - a point the Food and Drink Federation supported. “All additives, including sweeteners such as sucralose, are permitted only after very careful evaluation,”​ the spokesperson said, noting that the procedure is undertaken by independent scientific bodies that also consider whether substances cause cancer.

An acceptable daily allowance has been established by EU regulatory authorities for both sucralose and aspartame that ensure safe consumption without adverse health effects, they added.

“It is in everybody’s interest that, if any researcher considers they have new evidence demonstrating that a particular food additive causes cancer, they should submit it to EFSA for evaluation,”​ said the FSA spokesperson.  

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12 comments

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Greg Dolan 25th April 2012

Posted by James McDonald,

Dear Mr Dolan,
I am assuming this is a personal quote and not from the MI – what business does the MI have, getting involved in health issues anyway? They already know no one should be consuming methanol in any quantity and that its 1st metabolite formaldehyde is a well known carcinogen…….
Regarding your quote, it is incorrect in several important areas. The EPA did not announce that it would not use EFSA data for health assessment; it will not be using RI (Ramazzini institute) data. The RI is an independent Lab not in any way part of EFSA. EPA stated they would not use RI data in respect of and I quote “EPA has decided not to rely on data from the RI on lymphomas and leukemia’s in IRIS assessments” I think you will agree this does not mean for general health assessments……
There was a scientific difference of opinion between the RI and EPA PWG (Pathology working group) which was complicated by a slight respiratory infection in some of the study rats also there was a difference in laboratory procedures between RI and EPA. EPA decided this made the study results unclear and have recommended certain changes to RI procedures - “to allow for the use of future RI data in IRIS assessments”
I believe this is a much more accurate account of what you were trying to say.
James McDonald
(UKAAC) UK Aspartame Awareness Campaign

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peer reviewed mice liver cancer aspartame study Am J Ind Med 2010 Dec, Morando Soffritti, Collegium Ramazzini

Posted by Rich Murray,

Aspartame administered in feed, beginning prenatally through life span, induces cancers of the liver and lung in male Swiss mice.
Morando Soffritti MD*,
Fiorella Belpoggi DBS,
Marco Manservigi DBS,
Eva Tibaldi DBS,
Michelina Lauriola PhD,
Laura Falcioni DVM,
Luciano Bua MD
Article first published online: 30 SEP 2010
DOI: 10.1002/ajim.20896

Am J Ind Med. 2010 Dec;53(12):1197-206.
PMID: 20886530

Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center, Ramazzini Institute,
Bentivoglio, Bologna, Italy. soffrittim@ramazzini.it

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Aspartame (APM) is a well-known intense artificial sweetener used in more than 6,000 products.
Among the major users of aspartame are
children and women of childbearing age.
In previous lifespan experiments conducted on Sprague-Dawley rats we have shown that APM is a carcinogenic agent in multiple sites and that its effects are increased when exposure starts from prenatal life.
OBJECTIVE:
The aim of this study is to evaluate the potential of APM to induce carcinogenic effects in mice.
METHODS:
Six groups of 62-122 male and female Swiss mice were treated with APM in feed at doses of 32,000, 16,000, 8,000, 2,000, or 0 ppm from prenatal life (12 days of gestation) until death.
At death each animal underwent complete necropsy and all tissues and organs of all animals in the experiment were microscopically examined.
RESULTS:
APM in our experimental conditions induces in males a significant dose-related increased incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas (P <0.01), and a significant increase at the dose levels of 32,000 ppm (P< 0.01) and 16,000  ppm (P < 0.05). Moreover, the results show a significant dose-related increased incidence of alveolar/bronchiolar carcinomas in males (P < 0.05), and a significant increase at 32,000 ppm (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS:
The results of the present study confirm that APM is a carcinogenic agent in multiple sites in rodents, and that this effect is induced in two species, rats (males and females) and mice (males).
No carcinogenic effects were observed in female mice.
© 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMID: 20886530

http://www.collegiumramazzini.org/fellows.asp

scores of eminent toxicologists worldwide

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deceiving marketing strategy of "sucralose"

Posted by Dr. Paul Faigl,

By using a name "sucralose", a suggestion is made to sugar and not to a fact that it is an organochlorine! Put that on the label, and the market will wake up and the thing will not sell anymore! People will raise a revolution!

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