Alternative names: Artificial Sweetener Disease, ASD
Commonly known as Nutrasweet or Equal, aspartame is an artificial sweetener that replaces sugar (being 200-400 times sweeter) in many products. It is one of the most controversial products on the market today. Those who have suffered adverse reactions claim it is a chemical poison; the FDA claims it is a safe product. Aspartame's modern successor, Neotame, is based on the aspartame formula and raises similar concerns.
Independent research finds problems with aspartame. An analysis of peer reviewed medical literature using MEDLINE and other databases was conducted by Ralph G. Walton, MD (Chairman, The Center for Behavioral Medicine, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine). Dr. Walton analyzed 164 studies which were felt to have relevance to human safety questions. Of the 90 non-industry-sponsored (independent) studies, 83 (92%) identified one or more problems with aspartame. Of the 74 aspartame industry-sponsored studies, all 74 (100%) claimed that no problems were found with aspartame.
An extremely large number of toxicity reactions to aspartame has been reported. As of 1995, when the FDA was quoted as saying they stopped accepting adverse reaction reports on aspartame, over 75% of the adverse reactions reported to the FDA Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS) were due to aspartame. After considering the fact that an extremely low percentage of adverse reactions are reported to the FDA, it becomes clear that there are millions of known cases of aspartame toxicity reactions and possibly many other cases where the person ingesting aspartame is either
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals. It is a mixture of 40% aspartic acid, 50% phenylalanine, and 10% methanol (also known as wood alcohol – poison!) Although there are no publicized studies to substantiate the risks of aspartame, there are many who suffer from adverse reactions. As at the time of writing, there were 92 adverse reactions to aspartame that have been reported to the FDA.
Clearly, regular exposure to a toxic substance such as formaldehyde may worsen, or in some cases contribute to, the development of chronic diseases.
Formaldehyde Exposure from Aspartame
Aspartame breaks down into methanol, amino acids and several other chemicals. The methanol is quickly absorbed and converted into formaldehyde. The methanol found in foods and alcoholic beverages is also absorbed, but there are "protective chemicals" in these traditionally-ingested foods and beverages that prevent the conversion of methanol to formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is known to cause gradual damage to the nervous system, the immune system and has recently been shown to cause irreversible genetic damage at long-term, low-level exposure. The calculated level of formaldehyde exposure is approximately 61.3mg for every liter of aspartame ingested. That is over twice the level necessary to cause irreversible genetic damage in humans and several times the level shown to cause chronic neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and other symptoms in long-term industrial exposure research. The damage caused by formaldehyde from aspartame may be worsened by other aspartame breakdown chemicals, especially the aspartic acid.
Vision loss is a possible consequence of aspartame consumption.
The American Cancer Society has confirmed through study that users of artificial sweeteners gain more weight than those who don't use the products, further undermining the supposed "purpose" for the existence of aspartame in food. The major selling point of aspartame is as a diet aid, and it has been demonstrated that the use of this product actually causes people to consume more food. Normally, when a significant quantity of carbohydrate are consumed, serotonin levels rise in the brain. This is manifested as a relaxed feeling after a meal. When aspartame is ingested with carbohydrates, such as having a sandwich with a diet drink, aspartame causes the brain to cease production of serotonin, meaning that the feeling of having had enough never materializes. You then eat more foods, many containing aspartame, and the cycle continues.
Double-blind studies have demonstrated that aspartame causes headaches. [Headache 1988:28(1) pp.10-14, Biological Psychiatry 1993:34(1) pp.13-17, Neurology 1994:44 pp.1787-93.]
For those who have chronic health problems that have not responded to other interventions, a trial of avoiding aspartame for several weeks to months may produce noticeable benefits.