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Old 03-25-2008, 04:05 PM   #9
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wausau, WI
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I have had pet rats, and I learned the hard way that they are very prone to the conditions she photographs. My first rat had to be put to sleep at about 20 months old, because she had throat or stomache cancer. My vet advised me, and I later read more, that domestic rats are extremely prone to tumors and cancers (in fact they were originally bred specifically for that trait for research purposes). I find it nearly impossible to believe that none of her control group exhibited any of these very common conditions (My rats were never fed aspartame). I also wish she had reported the average life expectancy in each group. As the average life expectancy of a rat is only 2 years, yet her experiment time frame was 2 years, 8 months. It would be interesting to know the life expectancy differences between the two groups.

At any rate, I did a bit of a google search and found some very compelling arguments against her research design. The most compelling from a toxicologist who argues that aspartame could (because of it's known properties), like many dietary components, contribute to folate deficiency, which is known to cause the tumors she photographs.

On one hand it seems like a slim distinction. Aspartame can contribute to folate deficiency and folate deficiency can cause tumors, therefore aspartame can contribute to tumors via folate deficiency. However, these tumors would not occur, even in the presence of aspartame, if sufficient folates are included in the diet. It is an interesting piece of research, but still a very small part of the picture. All I've concluded after reading her research is that it might be especially important to eat your vegetables or take a daily vitamin if you're drinking a lot of diet soda.

A study of 108 rats is an extremely small study in the scheme of things. It is also important to realize that the researcher did have an agenda, she already suspected aspartame before she started the research. I'm not calling in to doubt her intentions (though I cannot discount the possibility of puposeful misrepresentation), but even with the best of intentions, her pre-existing bias would make her very susceptible to overlooking lesions and tumors in the control group (which may be why she found none).
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