A Harvard-affiliated hospital is backing away from its decision earlier this week to promote a paper linking the artificial sweetener aspartame and cancer, now saying the evidence was “weak.” Brigham and Women’s Hospital said in an e-mail to reporters that data in the paper, which was published on Wednesday in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “is weak, and that Brigham and Women’s Hospital media relations was premature in the promotion of this work.” Researchers at the hospital combed through two large studies of nurses and health professionals looking for evidence of an increased risk of blood cancers related to consumption of the artificial sweetener aspartame. When they looked at the two studies combined, they found some trends toward a higher risk of cancers that could be linked with aspartame, but the researchers admitted that the findings could also be due to chance.
Lottery wins trickle down
One in five lottery winners carry on working after they hit the jackpot and one-third invest in a jacuzzi, according to a survey published on Monday. The study of 3,000 winners who became instant millionaires showed only 59 percent handed in their notice immediately after their life-changing windfalls, while 19 percent carried on working. The National Lottery released the study to mark the creation of 3,000 millionaires since the game was introduced in 1994. It showed that winners had shared their good fortune with their children, family and friends, creating an additional 3,780 millionaires. Winners have also started or supported 900 British-based businesses employing a total of 3,195 people.
Princess Madeleine and her US-British boyfriend Christopher O’Neill announced their engagement on the royal palace Web site yesterday. The 30-year-old Madeleine is the youngest of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s three children and is fourth in line to the throne. The tabloid Expressen reported early yesterday that O’Neill, a 38-year-old financier she met in New York, had proposed to the princess, and the couple confirmed the news in a brief video clip posted on the royal Web site.
‘Headless’ ladybug found
A newly discovered insect tucks its head into its throat — making it not only a new species, but an entirely new genus. Ross Winton captured the insect in 2009 in traps he set in a sand dune while an entomology graduate student at Montana State University. Winton at first thought he had parts of an ant, but then discovered the bug can hide its head, much like a turtle ducking into its shell. The headless ladybug was formally described in a recent issue of the peer-reviewed journal Systemic Entomology. Just two specimens of the tan, pinhead-sized ladybugs have ever been collected, a male in Montana and a female in Idaho, scientists said, making it the rarest species in the US.
Mayans slam calendar tours
Mayans accused the government and tour groups on Wednesday of perpetuating the myth that their calendar foresees the imminent end of the world for monetary gain. “We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth, and turning us into folklore-for-profit. They are not telling the truth about time cycles,” said Felipe Gomez, leader of the Maya alliance Oxlaljuj Ajpop.