of cancers and cellphones

Currently reading this article on Salon.com about how we are all living in some kind of petri-dish where almost half of the stuff we are in contact with can give us cancer. It's an interview with Devra Davis, head of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute in relation to her new book, "The Secret History of the War on Cancer."

A big part of the blame is attributed to relevant agencies'(at least in the US) apparent lack of concern in regulating cancer-inducing products.

Why do you have concerns about aspartame, the artificial sweetener in many soft drinks and other low-calorie foods? What's a drinker of Diet Coke to think?

I can't tell you what to think: I can just tell you what I know, and what I recommend to my children.

In 1977, Richard Merrill, who later became dean of the University of Virginia Law School, was the chief counsel of the Food and Drug Administration, and he formally asked the U.S. attorney to convene a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict the producer of aspartame, G.D. Searle, for misrepresenting "findings, concealing material facts and making false statements" in aspartame safety tests.

This is not some left-wing group. This is the actual chief counsel of the FDA asking the U.S. attorney's office to convene a grand jury. It never happened, because by the time the grand jury was ready to be convened we had a new president. That president was Reagan, and within a month of Reagan taking office, he had a proposal from a guy you might have heard of named Donald Rumsfeld [who was then chief operating officer of Searle].

And Jan. 22, 1981, one day after Reagan's inauguration -- one day -- Searle reapplied for FDA approval. Prior to that, ever single request for approval was turned down by all the scientists ever looking at the data. That's a fact. There's no dispute about that fact. And then, it gets approved May 19, 1981.

Remember what happened with the Reagan revolution? It was: "We need to get the government off our backs." One of the backs it got off of was suppressing the aspartame industry. Later, many of the people who worked at the FDA to evaluate aspartame ended up going to work for the company producing it.

So you tell people to avoid it?


First of all, there's no evidence that it helps you lose weight. And there are people who drink a lot of diet soda. It's a question of a risk-benefit trade-off.

read the whole article called Life Will Kill You by Katharine Mieszkowski.

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