NIH News Advisory
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Monday, October 27, 1997
Bill Grigg
(919) 541-2605
Tom Hawkins
(919) 541-1402
Sandy Lange
(919) 541-2373

New Scientific Review of Saccharin
to be Discussed as Board Reviews Proposed Listings for 9th Report on Carcinogens
A Subcommittee of the National Toxicology Program's Board of Scientific Counselors will review data at its Oct.30 and 31 public meeting that could result in a recommendation to "de-list" saccharin from the federal government's official report of cancer-causing substances, The Report on Carcinogens, ninth edition, and could add ultraviolet radiation, smokeless tobacco (such as snuff and chewing tobacco), tobacco smoke as an entity, all in the strongest category of "known" human carcinogen, and other drugs and chemicals.

The NTP is headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and the board will meet in public meetings there in the conference center, building 101, at 111 Alexander Drive. The recommendations of two scientific reviews will become public at that time.

The board is influential but not the final word. It makes recommendations to NTP Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., who in turn makes recommendations to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala.

The strongest category in the listings is "known" human carcinogen. Saccharin has, since 1981, been in a lesser category as "anticipated" to be a carcinogen (or "likely to be") based on evidence that included testing in animals. The Calorie Control Council, an industry group, petitioned for saccharin to be de-listed under revised criteria and review procedures announced by the Department of Health and Human Services last year. The criteria were broadened to allow consideration of such factors as mechanisms of action as well as the standard two-year rodent tests, and also set up a mechanism for petitioning to have a substance removed. Under a Congressional mandate, the HHS Secretary is required to submit to Congress a Report on Carcinogens. The Secretary has delegated responsibility for preparing the report on the NTP.

In July, in announcing plans for the ninth such report, NTP said that it planned to review saccharin for de-listing and to review 13 substances or categories of substances that have been nominated for review as candidates for listing.

Besides tobacco smoke, smokeless tobacco and UV radiation, the substances planned for review are:

In addition, several already listed substances would be reviewed as candidates to move from "anticipated" human carcinogens to the stronger category of "known" human carcinogens:

Both Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 sessions begin at 8:30 AM.