The dangers of aspartame consumption

16,000 Tons and What Do You Get?

Imagine 16,000 tons of powder. The weight of 10,600 cars approximately equals 16,000 tons, so we’re talking about a LOT of powder.

But not just any powder. About 16,000 tons of aspartame is produced for worldwide consumption each year. In other words, people are consuming enormous quantities of this artificial sweetener, which is better known by its commercial names, such as NutraSweet and Equal.

The day may come when our grandchildren, or perhaps their grandchildren, look back on the decades around the turn of the century and wonder how so many people, year after year, could ingest such huge quantities of something that appeared to be such an obvious enemy of good health.

And what may be most baffling to our heirs: The warning signs are numerous. And they just keep coming.

Daily intakeacceptable?

The most recent aspartame findings come from a large animal study conducted by Italian researchers at the Ramazzini Foundation, which specializes in oncology and environmental sciences.

For more than three decades, researchers simulated daily human intake of aspartame on 1800 rats (equal amounts of males and females). Each rat was assigned to one of eight dosage levels: zero mg per kilogram of body weight, 4 mg/Kg, 20 mg/Kg, 100 mg/Kg, 500 mg/Kg, 2,500 mg/Kg, or 5,000 mg/Kg. Rats began receiving aspartame at eight weeks of age, continuing throughout their lives.

The results (reported in a recent issue of the European Journal of Oncology) showed a “statistically significant” increase in leukemias and lymphomas among female rats who received as little as 20 mg/Kg per day. Current European regulations place an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of aspartame at 40 to 50 mg/Kg of body weight. That ADI is for humans, of course, not rats.

But the research doesn’t end there. The Ramazzini data, with full pathology reports, have been submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Union’s counterpart to our FDA. A panel of experts (oh brother!) will then evaluate the findings “in the context of the previous extensive safety data available on aspartame.”

In other words: Expect absolutely nothing to happen. Because the EFSA so far has done exactly what the FDA has done with the current available safety data: Nothing. But that’s fine. You and I and other concerned citizens will take it from here with a little Water Cooler Regulation.

61 revisited

In the world of harmful food additives, aspartame may turn out to be the most notoriously harmful of them all. Research shows that aspartame may mimic or worsen diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and depression.

In 1994 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a list of 61 reported adverse reactions to aspartame, including: chest pains, asthma, arthritis, migraine headaches, insomnia, seizures, tremors, vertigo, and weight gain. The surprising item on that list is “weight gain,” given the fact that aspartame is the sweetener used in most diet sodas. In fact, according to one study, aspartame may actually STIMULATE appetite, prompting cravings for calorie-rich carbohydrates.

But weight gain is nothing compared to some of the horror stories out there.

Aspertame is made by combining two amino acids with methanol. According to an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, methanol is the probable trigger for most of the adverse reactions associated with aspartame. When aspartame is combined with the enzyme chymotrypsin in the small intestine, methanol is released and breaks down into formaldehyde, a potent neurotoxin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers methanol to be a “cumulative poison” and recommends a safe consumption of no more than 7.8 mg per day. If you drink a one-liter beverage containing aspartame, you body creates seven times that amount – about 56 mg of methanol.

But it gets even worse. Because if the product containing aspartame is heated to a temperature above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, “free methanol” is created, speeding up the absorption of methanol, and magnifying the effects of the neurotoxins. Nevertheless, in 1993 the FDA approved the use of aspartame in food items such as gelatin desserts that require heating well over the 86-degree range.

The result? People are hurting. According to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, approximately 75 percent of all complaints received about food additives are aspartame-related: 3 out of every 4! And yet the FDA still refuses to acknowledge the evidence that aspartame could be endangering public health.

Hold the toxin

In spite of the clear dangers of aspartame, FDA officials have ignored calls for a ban and have resisted efforts to establish a warning label for aspartame, stating (completely contrary to all the evidence) that complaints against the sweetener aren’t sufficient to warrant such a warning.

But really, what good would a warning label do? Does the average consumer actually read the fine print on his can of diet Mountain Dew?

What’s needed here is not an FDA regulation, but rather some Water Cooler Regulation. Tell your friends and family about the potential dangers of aspartame. Spread the word. And as always, feel free to share this e-Alert with them.

Sources:
“EFSA Scientists to Review Aspartame Study” FoodNavigator-USA.com, 7/18/05, foodnavigator-usa.com
“Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects” Holistic Healing Web Page, holisticmed.com
“Aspartame – Avoid It” Dr. Joseph Mercola, mercola.com
“Menthanol – AKA Wood Alcohol or Poison – 10% of Aspartame” Dr. Joseph Mercola, mercola.com