You know Aspartame well, it's also called "Nutrasweet". It's a low calorie sweetener used in all kinds of stuff (including, prominently, soft drinks). What really got me riled up about this, is that the HuffPo article was reposted, and given credence on The Consumerist. I like The Consumerist, but this is unacceptable. They're just parroting the fear-mongering. Why is this just fear-mongering? I'll tell you why...
The good doctor is talking about a study conducted in 2006 by the Italian Ramazzini Foundation that showed that Aspartame caused cancer in lab rats. The results of the study were presented in April of 2007. Why Dr. Epstein feels action on this is imminent now, two years later, is a mystery. If you take him at his word, it does sound damning. But... lets apply some skepticism, just to be sure.
Firstly, despite claiming that the rats were fed Aspartame within the acceptable daily intake (ADI), many of their experimental animals were being fed well over 100 times the ADI. These subjects, in fact, had no reduction in average life span compared to the control group. None! This flies in the face of the authors assertion. (source)
Above: Delicious, safe.
Indeed, even the competency with which the study was conducted is highly questionable according to the European Food Safety Authority. Cancer rates for older rats were compared directly with young rats, leading to skewed results. The feeding methods for the rats was also poorly recorded. It was also indicated that serious over-crowding of the rats likely led to respiratory disease, which is known to cause cancer in rats. Additionally, there was no randomization of the test animals. (source)
And after all these problems, even the histological studies of test animals were poorly done. The U.S. National Toxicology Program found that the researchers had misdiagnosed simple, benign hyperplasia as cancer in multiple cases. (source) In response to this, the US FDA requested that the Italian Ramazzini Foundation provide its raw data and tissue slides. They refused. So, just as the European Food Safety Authority had, the FDA determined that the study was flawed and no changes were needed. (source) If a group of researchers will not share data after publishing, that's a sure sign that there is something fishy going on.
This business with the HuffPo and the original study is another stab into the mainstream by the same activist, anti-science loons we've been hearing from for decades. There's no new evidence. Aspartame has been found to be safe in study after study for over 40 years. Okay... tinfoil hats off now.