The European Parliament has ignited a contentious new battle in the festering controversy over the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame (also known as NutraSweet). Euro lawmakers have proposed a warning label for diet soda and other beverages. If adopted, the label, which follows a Danish study last year that found links between the consumption of artificially sweetened soda and an increased risk of preterm delivery, would read:
Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine; might be unsuitable for pregnant women)
Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study is just the latest to raise questions about the sweetener, which is used in most diet sodas. A study in 2005 by the European Ramazzini Foundation found high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers in rats that had been given doses of it starting at what would be equivalent to four to five 20-ounce bottles of diet soda a day for a 150-pound person.