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Can artificial sweeteners give you cancer? A study conducted in Italy seems to suggest exactly that. Aspartame (a very popular artificial sweetener) was subjected to a study on laboratory rats. A group of lab rats were fed apartame at levels close to the daily allowed maximum dose of aspartame. After death, these animals were subjected to autopsy - and that revealed a higher than normal chance of developing cancers, including lymphoma.

These findings have started a debate in the United States regarding the safety of aspartame. This is not the first time that artificial sweeteners have been under scrutiny as carcinogenic agents. Earlier, saccharin - a first generation sweetener - had been implicated as a possible cause of cancers. But this time, the authorities at FDA are not ready to take the findings at face value. They claim that a number of studies conducted earlier have shown aspartame to be safe. There is no reason to change the outlook on aspartame. CSPI, the consumer group that brought the Italian study into public notice, however believe that there is reason for concern. They have asked the FDA to reconsider their stand.

What does that mean for the ordinary consumer? While there is no reason for immediate alarm, it may not be a bad idea to look into your daily intake of diet soda and other food with aspartame and make sure that you are well within the daily allowed limit.

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