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Is Nutrasweet (Aspartame) Safe?

Written by Wellness Club on June 24, 2008 – 11:28 pm -

One of our readers wrote the following to General Mills:

"I was enjoying your Fiber One until I read the ingredients. Why do you put Aspartame in the cereal? The FDA may say it’s safe, but check the studies that have been done and how this is harmful to the body. People being diagnosed with MS and it was the result of drinking diet sodas. "

General Mills replied:

"Dear Valued Consumer:

Thank you for contacting General Mills concerning the use of aspartame in Fiber One cereal.

A great deal of effort is directed toward ensuring the safety of our products. Before a product is released from our research group, it is carefully checked to ensure that it meets our high standards.

The safety of aspartame has been demonstrated repeatedly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and affirmed by the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization as well as regulatory authorities around the world.

(Dr. Myatt’s note: Well, I’ll sleep better at night knowing that aspartame is approved by every US and world organization that takes bribe money — uh, I mean "licensing fees").

Furthermore, independent cancer researchers at major universities such as Harvard, Colombia, Duke and the University of Illinois have stated that allegations against aspartame are without merit and that the ingredient is completely safe.

Aspartame provides consumers the benefit of sweet taste without using sugar. We strive to provide consumers with good-tasting food choices to meet their taste and health or nutrition preferences.

Additional information on aspartame may be obtained from the American Dietetic Association, National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics at 1-800-366-1655.

We appreciate your comments and hope you will continue to choose our products.

Allison Owen
Consumer Services"

Next, Ruth emailed Dr. Myatt

"Do you buy this ??!!! I don’t mean the product, I mean the explanation…"

To which Dr. Myatt replies:

Aspartame (best-known trade names are "NutraSweet" and "Equal") has long been known to be toxic. You know me, Ruth. I don’t buy into every "conspiracy theory" just because it’s "holistically popular" to do so. But aspartame is bad news. In fact, it’s beyond bad news. I believe this sugar substitute is poisonous, in spite of what General Mills, the FDA and anyone else has to say about it.

Here’s the "short course":

Aspartame is composed of phenylalanine (50%), aspartic acid (40%) and methanol (10%). Methanol, which forms 10% of the broken down product, is converted in the body to formate, which can either be excreted or can give rise to formaldehyde, diketopiperazine (a carcinogen) and a number of other highly toxic derivatives. (1).

Studies show that aspartame is linked to:

  • brain tumors "an exceedingly high incidence of brain tumors… in experimental animals…" (cancer) (2-4)
  • seizures (1,5)
  • depression and behavior disturbances (6,7)
  • headaches (1,8-9)
  • neurotoxicity (1)

… and a long list of other "adverse events" reported to the FDA.

The "how in the world did this stuff get approved?" story reads like a genuine whodunnit, featuring industry ties, bribes and forged data. If you’re interested in the whole sordid story, find an old copy of Dr. Jonathan Wright’s "Deadly Deception." Or read the "short course" on this scandal here:

Of course, there are no shortage of studies which show that aspartame is completely safe. Here is what one review noted. "This review is particularly worrying as it shows that, although 100% of industry funded (either whole or in part) studies conclude that aspartame is safe, 92% of independently funded studies have found that aspartame has the potential for adverse effects." (10,11)

Bottom Line: Lose the aspartame and use a safe sweetener like stevia (an herb) instead. You won’t find any aspartame-sweetened anything in my house, even though I still have Teflon pans and still cook with my microwave oven!

And here’s a "Conspiracy Theory" NOTE: If you search for references about the dangers of aspartame on Pubmed (index of medical journal articles), you’ll find many potentially damning references that say "no abstract listed," which means you and I can’t read the conclusions of these studies without purchasing the entire journal. This is not true of most articles where the abstracts are readily available. I smell a dead and decomposing rodent, don’t you?

1.) P. Humphries, E. Pretorius, H. Naude. Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;62(4):451-62. Epub 2007 Aug 8.
2.) Huff J, LaDou J. Aspartame bioassay findings portend human cancer hazards. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2007 Oct-Dec;13(4):446-8.
3.) Gombos K, Varjas T, Orsós Z, Polyák E, Peredi J, Varga Z, Nowrasteh G, Tettinger A, Mucsi G, Ember I. The effect of aspartame administration on oncogene and suppressor gene expressions. In Vivo. 2007 Jan-Feb;21(1):89-92.
4.) Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins LN. Increasing brain tumor rates: is there a link to aspartame? J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1996 Nov;55(11):1115-23.
5.) Maher TJ, Wurtman RJ.Possible neurologic effects of aspartame, a widely used food additive. Environ Health Perspect. 1987 Nov;75:53-7.
6.) Walton RG, Hudak R, Green-Waite RJ. Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biol Psychiatry 1993;34:(1-2): 13-7.
7.) Coulombe RA Jr, Sharma RP.Neurobiochemical alterations induced by the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet). Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1986 Mar 30;83(1):79-85.
8.) Van Den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth Jr WT, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B. Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized, crossover trial. Neurology 1994;44: 1787-93. [PubMed].
9.) Lipton RB, Newman LC, Cohen JS, Solomon S. Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache. Headache 1989;29:(2): 90-2.
10.) Aspartame and its effects on health: independently funded studies have found potential for adverse effects. British Medical Jour. 2005 Feb 5;330(7486):309-10.
11.) SURVEY OF ASPARTAME STUDIES:CORRELATION OF OUTCOME AND FUNDING SOURCES. Ralph G. Walton, M.D. Chairman The Center for Behavioral Medicine Forum Health Professor and Chairman Department of Psychiatry Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine [independent paper not published in a peer-review journal].

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