Aspartame danger – urgent warning about tumors and seizures
The laws governing the sale of drugs and food additives require substances be safe for human consumption. The artificial sweetener aspartame primarily consumed in beverages and as a popular sugar substitute has consistently been found to cause tumors and brain seizures in animal subjects. In 2005, a European Cancer Research Center, the Ramazzini Foundation, called for an urgent re-examination of aspartame in food and beverages to protect children. This call is made in the face of the US FDA stand that aspartame is safe for human consumption on the ground that “aspartame as a carcinogen is not supported by data.”
Aspartame: A brief history
As early as 1960 aspartame was determined to be a dangerous chemical and the emerging research years later only served to affirm the true nature of this artificial sweetener. Over the years, aspartame has been found to create holes in brain tissue, adversely affect the brain and nerve development in the fetus, cause cancer, migraines, headaches, seizures, convulsions and even retinal damage. With this amount of negative findings, aspartame should have been removed from the market years ago!
Ironically, aspartame was indeed removed from the market after it was already approved for limited use based on tests selected by Searle, the company who originally produced the artificial sweetener. This was after Dr. John Olney, a research psychiatrist from Washington School of Medicine, revealed that consumption of aspartic acid, a major ingredient in aspartame, produced holes in the brains of animal subjects.
After two task forces that found questionable laboratory practices as well as findings, the FDA ordered a grand jury investigation of aspartame studies, but lawyers for the government failed to initiate a legal action against Searle. Time ran out, and the grand jury investigation had to be terminated. Of interest to note was that one of the lawyers for the government, U.S. attorney William Conlon, later joined the law firm representing Searle.
Unfazed by this setback, the FDA this time recommended a Public Board Inquiry which recommended that aspartame be kept off the market until further tests could prove that it did not cause tumors. This led to a formation of another team of experts brought together to look into the Public Board of Inquiry’s conclusions. This team found itself in a deadlock over aspartame approval, causing the FDA Commissioner not to approve aspartame this time.
In April 1981, Dr. Arthur Hayes was appointed the new Commissioner for the FDA and he later approved aspartame for use in dry goods. In 1983, he also approved aspartame for use in diet drinks, conveniently leaving months later to work for Searle’s advertising agency.
Warning to aspartame consumers
We can only guess and read between the lines what kind of politics it took to get aspartame approved. After more than 8,000 complaints on Nutrasweet side effects, a list of symptoms attributed to aspartame from complaints submitted to the FDA was made public. This list included among others: hallucinations, diarrhea, seizures, depression, migraine, fatigue and insomnia. Aspartame has also been linked to tumors, cancer and infertility.
Except for a brief declaration that carefully controlled clinical studies showed aspartame is not an allergen, the FDA merely issued an advisory that products containing aspartame must include a warning to phenylketonurics, people sensitive to the compound phenylalanine. It still continues to adhere to its stand that “aspartame as a carcinogen is not supported by data.”
Aspartame was never tested on humans before its approval. Now, it is found in 6,000 products and consumed by more than 250 million people, with Americans consuming around half of the world supply. By default, we have now become the test subjects for aspartame’s safety. Unwittingly we are providing evidence to aspartame’s toxicity through the devastating effects it is slowly producing among its consumers. The list of complaints submitted to the FDA as well as from anecdotal reports does not seem to end anytime soon. If the government chooses to turn a blind eye on aspartame, let us at least choose not to be a willing conspirator and suffer the consequences of being a willing victim.
Sources for this article:
By Aurora Geib
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Low doses of ethanol prevent harm from methanol from smoking and aspartame, which otherwise the human body always quickly turns into formaldehyde via the ADH enzyme inside the cells of blood vessels and many tissues: Rich Murray 2012.03.14
This is inevitably a co-factor in many diseases of civilization since 1800, ranging from heart disease to Alzheimers to cancers to birth defects like spina bifida and autism, which all have been increasing rapidly since the approval of aspartame in 1981.
Prof. Woodrow C. Monte (Nutrition, Arizona State University, retired) sent Chapter 12, Autism and Other Birth Defects, to EFSA in early Novmber 2011, with a hundred mainstream scientific references, available free as online full texts, in his comprehensive review “While Science Sleeps: A Sweetener Kills”, with 740 references, published January 1 2012.
His book is now available as an Kindle electronic book, $ 9.80 download, readable on any computer via free software,
within mutual service, Rich Murray
MA Boston University Graduate School 1967 psychology,
BS MIT 1964 history and physics
new book, concise opus “While Science Sleeps” life saving facts re aspartame (methanol, formaldehyde) — 740 full text references are free online — Woodrow “Woody” C. Monte, retired Prof. of Nutrition, Arizona State University: Rich Murray 2012.01.03
about 240 pages text, with 740 full text references free online $ 37.98 paperback — see:
MA Boston University Graduate School 1967 psychology,
BS MIT 1964 history and physics,
254-A Donax Avenue, Imperial Beach, CA 91932
Skype audio, video rich.murray11
new primary archive
group with 120 members, 1,636 posts in a public archive
group with 782 members, 24,432 posts in a public archive
While Science Sleeps, methanol from cigarettes and aspartame becomes formaldehyde inside human cells — Table of Contents, WC Monte bio, Kindle electronic book version $ 9.80 Amazon.com: Rich Murray 2012.01.26
And to you Rich, thanks so much for taking the time and commenting! Much appreciated!
This post suggesting aspartame is unsafe is wrong, pure and simple, both in the claim alone and in its misleading citation of outdated 1980’s analysis as even being relevant or in its citing invalid Ramazzini work as evidence of aspartame being unsafe. All such work ignored the vital importance of one’s own vitamin sufficiency status and one’s own often uniquely different folate/B12 biochemistry (called folate polymorphisms) to the aspartame discussion. And key to these is that this article and other critics fail to understand methanol metabolism. Methanol metabolism has been studied for roughly four decades by Tephly (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1997785), but totally ignored by aspartame critics. Before the 1990’s the critical role of these vitamins were poorly understood and that can explain all questions raised early about aspartame. In fact the cited “hallucinations, diarrhea, seizures, depression, migraine, fatigue and insomnia”…” tumors, cancer and infertility” can each be more directly and more relevantly connected to folate/B12 issues than to aspartame. In 1998 a mandated addition of folate to cereal grains dramatically reduced a widespread deficiency of folic acid amongst the population and with that was seen a dramatic decline in many medical issues including birth defects and other issues. Newer Ramazzini work should never have been cited; their work has documentably failed to understand the relevance of folate and is full of fundamental errors made by neglecting this issue– some will be mentioned later.
Let me begin by noting that there has never been any substantiated, reproducible evidence of any harm from aspartame, cancer included. In fact the US and other governments have wasted more money on this than misguided concern than it has on virtually any other substance known to man. In fact corn contains more dangerous components. Two points demonstrate this.
First, the fundamentals of toxicology (the science of poisons) say “everything is toxic.” And that everything includes aspartame and all its three decomposition products, aspartate, phenylalanine, and methanol. But where the aspartame critics fail to understand and then mislead the reader is that dose is paramount. Everything about toxicology is dose; the words ‘toxic’ or ‘poison’ mean nothing without a specific dose for that substance. And dose alone separates a food/drug from a poison. For example botulinum toxin (Botox), which is the most toxic substance known (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulinum_toxin), is extensively and successfully used in cosmetic procedures. Highly toxic cyanide is found in plant products we all consume; however, at those doses cyanide is readily detoxified by the enzyme rhodanese, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodanese). In contrast ‘low-toxicity’ water drowns hundreds of people yearly. So the informed reader should understand that words like ‘toxic’ or ‘poison’ often found in the anti-aspartame literature are irrelevant. That is any claim that a chemical substance is “toxic” or a poison is by itself is absolutely MEANINGLESS. Such claims MUST include a specific toxic response at a specific dose. Aspartame critics cannot now do this and never could! Everyday foodstuffs like milk, fruit juices, etc contain more of these aspartame decomposition products than does aspartame itself. That is part of the reason why they cannot get any regulatory agency to even listen to their long-failed arguments.
So at what dose does aspartame constitute a hazard? Aspartame critics cannot provide that dose, because they want it to be zero. But nothing is zero. While everything is toxic, like botulinum toxin (Botox) everything is ALSO safe at a certain dose—that is the basis of using Botox and the basis for all pharmacology, the science of drugs. A human poisonous dose of methanol is about 10 milliliters, consumed pretty much all at once. An aspartame dose contains 200 mg of methanol. That means 5 cans would have to be consumed in roughly 1-5 minutes to reach even 1/10 the methanol toxic amount. Do you drink 5 cans, much less 5×10 cans in a few minutes? Of course you don’t. These numbers illustrate that upper limit is also way beyond rationale use. And these discussions neglect the known fact that methanol itself isn’t particularly toxic; all its effects are due to its oxidation products formaldehyde and formate. But these are natural substances and in fact the entire folate vitamin system is designed to detoxify both formaldehyde and formate. It is the formate that generates the toxicity and it is acidosis, but the detoxifying transformation of formate is fast when dose is normal (food-derived). So that intake can be repeated daily without additive harm. That means from a methanol standpoint you could probably drink 50 cans of soft drink a day and still suffer no ill effect from aspartame. However, gastric distress or other issues from all that phosphoric acid is a whole different matter. Again the reader should realize that methanol toxicity derives not from the methanol per se, but from its formate oxidation product causing a dangerous metabolic acidosis. Sufficient folic acid is key to preventing that acidosis. Not surprising, folate is also a vital antidote for medical treatment of methanol poisoning. Critics have no case here again.
A second point is that 99.9% of anti-aspartame websites are not scientific opinion, but repetition of a pre-1998 conspiracy theory undertaken by a handful of critics, who are rarely scientists and whose arguments are simply invalid. These arguments are fallacious, yet they contain a sufficient element of truth like citations of earlier misleading facts to facilitate their fantasy on the web. A few of these critics are MDs and that causes people to listen. But people need to realize that MDs are clinicians; few know much about toxicology or risk-assessment. And some of these MDs profiting from their rants about aspartame are surgeons, who rarely have even a comprehensive understanding of pharmacology or toxicology and their comments when scrutinized document that fact.
Many arguments against aspartame both in some of the scientific literature and the popular literature are so filled with fundamental errors that they will not even be considered in regulatory analysis. As does this article, aspartame critics often cite work by Soffritti et al (Ramazzini) in support of their argument. However, regulatory agencies pay no attention. While their cited reasons relate to specific health of the test rats, the health of those rats were affected by fundamental errors in science. Specifically the mid 2000 era work by Soffritti et al is loaded with as many as five fatal, scientific errors. This list includes the use of a type of rat (Sprague-Dawley) known to become folate deficient at one year of age (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/6/1357.long); but their experiment lasted three years. And this doesn’t even mention Soffritti’s use of a documentably folate deficient diet for those three years. [FYI, this same error was originally made by aspartame makers and went unrecognized for decades. That accident is what helped make this into a conspiracy theory. Later work by aspartame makers used corn diets high in folate and then the problems could not be reproduced.] Still other fundamental scientific errors therein totally dismiss the Soffritti et al work. And that includes work with other substances beside aspartame. FDA is aware of these issues and will not ban aspartame based on an overwhelming scientific assessment of safety.
Popular pseudoscience arguments against aspartame include the Victoria Inness-Brown article available at Amazon; her’s is but another example of bad science. I should note that I refuse to pay money to read her latest Amazon rendition of badly done science. My recollection from her web postings years ago was that she was a newspaper person, who wanting to find out for herself, performed an experiment on aspartame in rats. She tried to use controls, but newspaper credentials are not scientific credentials and my recollection was that her errors including control errors were numerous, but fundamentally were the same errors made by the Ramazzini group as mentioned above.
In the end the fact remains that aspartame is approved for use by every relevant regulatory agency in the world and is considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe). There are no scientifically acceptable studies by anyone, many governments included, to the contrary.
John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)
Thank you so much for such an indepth comment!! Appreciate it very much! Thank you.