Thursday afternoon I attended the monthly diabetes support group meeting at a local hospital. These are usually interesting sessions but this month’s outdid itself.
The topic for the meeting was sweeteners. The dietician/diabetes educator who presented the program was well prepared and did a nice job. But it was the “fireworks” which took place that added spice to the meeting.
She was presenting information about the various sweeteners. She pointed out how they were approved by the FDA and how long that approval had taken. She was doing pretty well until she hit aspartame (Nutrasweet/Equal). At that point, a woman stood up and introduced herself as a researcher of 30 years at a local university. She had worked on studying aspartame for some number of years. The studies they did concerned themselves with young rats. She was very concerned because their work demonstrated that the young rats fed aspartame developed brain tumors which turned malignant. The tumors were located in a part of the brain where they produced no symptoms until it was too late.
As she was presenting her data, someone in the rear of the room shouted to her to shut up and sit down, that we hadn’t come to hear this. At that point a number of others shouted that they wanted to hear what the woman was saying. I was in their camp although I did not say anything because I get a headache any time I eat/drink something with aspartame in it.
I admired the woman conducting the meeting. She didn’t try to refute what the woman was saying and wisely let her have her say. She did suggest that perhaps the researcher could stay after the meeting and people could ask their questions then.
Another telling point in the researcher’s comments to me was about the FDA approval. She said that the approval for aspartame was tainted because they only considered industry research and not that of independent labs and how in too many cases gaining the approval is a political issue.
Her data about brain tumors interested me. She had information on how the occurrence of brain tumors has increased since aspartame came on the market. I thought of all the people I’ve known/heard about in the last few years who have suffered from malignant brain tumors. I don’t know if they were heavy users of aspartame but it’s something to consider.
It was quite a meeting!