Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:
Millions of people drink diet soda or consume artificial sweeteners in chewing gum, candy, yogurt, ice cream or even medications. We assume that such sugar substitutes will save us from the obesity epidemic. But do we know that is true?
Animal research suggests that artificial sweeteners, specifically aspartame, may not be benefiting us as much as we expect. Other research in both animals and humans raises the question of whether these sweeteners are as safe as we imagine. Find out what we know about artificial sweeteners and what we still need to learn.
Guests: Morando Soffritti, MD, is Scientific Director of the Ramazzini Institute in the Centro di Ricerca sul Cancro Cesare Maltoni in Bologna, Italy. The photo is of Dr. Soffritti. The website is www.ramazzini.it
Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, is Chairman of the Department of Nutrition and Frederick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. His recent article appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Susan Swithers, PhD, is Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue, and a member of the Ingestive Behavior Research Center. Her study on rats given nonnutritive sweeteners was published in Behavioral Neuroscience.
Hannah Gardener, ScD, is an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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  1. .MargeHD

    Aspartame gives me terrible headaches – haven’t deliberately ingested it for 29 years.

  2. mg

    I listened very carefully to the podcast on artificial sweeteners, especially Dr. Willet’s interview. I always look forward to hearing from him on People’s Parm. But on the topic I was waiting for — STEVIA — he said only that it’s natural but not researched.
    I’ve used Now Products Stevia Glycerite as my only sweetener since 1997, and I would hope that experts like Dr. Willett would study this natural sweetening alternative.

  3. M.R.

    On Saturday morning I thought I must not be hearing correctly, but after hearing the repeat of the People’s Pharmacy on Sunday, the question arises as to what message you were trying to convey. I assume your intent is to have aspartame, and perhaps all artificial sweeteners banned. You represent yourselves as scientists, but seemed not to employ scientific reasoning in this show.
    The first scientist you interviewed found an increase in leukemia in female, but not male, rats – and it sounded as though this was dose independent. This guest does not represent sound science. You did not question why there was a sexual dimorphism in his data, what type of leukemia he found, or what percent of treated animals developed leukemia. Has anyone else been able to verify the results independently? If not, his findings should not have been presented.
    The second guest reviewed data on a cohort followed for several years– and found a trend? I assume it was not statistically significant, and you should have said as much. But you left the listeners with the impression that he found a significant increase in cancer in his study subjects. But he did not. His trend may be established as real if he surveyed more people, or it may have just been a sampling bias. His real conclusion, which you should have repeated, was he found no association between use of artificial sweeteners and cancer. Did you bother to interview a scientist/health care professional about risk benefit studies on use of artificial sweeteners? Why not? That would be the fair and balanced approach and give your audience valuable information to make informed choices.
    Your remaining guests presented their work with caution and conservatively, stating that their findings were associative and not causative. But you pushed past this. In fact you asked them leading questions outside of their areas of expertise, apparently to support an agenda that aspartame is bad/dangerous and should be banned. Well, some people may not be able to tolerate aspartame, but many more do. And for those of us who are insulin dependent, being able to enjoy a sugar free product is a blessing. Diet drinks, beyond what you may think, do help diabetics enjoy life and keep type I diabetes from being a disease of total deprivation.
    I agree with you that diet drinks do not help anyone lose weight! Any heath care professional can tell you that burning more calories through exercise is essential to losing weight. Artificially sweetened food and drinks can help overweight people achieve an energy intake balance with appropriate dietary changes and exercise to lose weight.
    I do not have any financial ties to the artificial sweetener or diet soda industry.

  4. Rick M

    I use sweet n low, after trying stevia a few years ago. Although stevia is natural, it is also part of the ragweed family. My allergies got much worse from using stevia.

  5. C. A.

    I have found that if I consume any amount of Nutrasweet (Aspartame), in soft drinks for example, it causes temporary numbness in my fingertips. The degree and duration of the numbness is directly proportional to the amount of the soft drink consumed. It was alarming at first, but it usually wears off within a few hours.

  6. Paul C. G.

    Hi, I woke up late and only caught the last 20 minutes of your broadcast on sweeteners. I was was both listening and reading an article about the tau protein causing Alzheimer’s disease in the Wall Street Journal. If I were doing that research, I would investigate benzodiazepines, for they are reported to have Alzheimer’s disease as a side effect.
    If you investigate the disease from many different approaches, it may tell you exactly what and why it is caused and the exact mechanism of how it is caused. Some company please investigate this approach. Thank you. pg1246 o&o

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