Saturday, September 4, 2010

Aspartame - harmless sweetener or destroyer of humanity?

A little while back, my dad forwarded to me the following e-mail and asked if there was “anything to it.” He called me “Dr. Science,” which is pretty exaggerated. Nevertheless--the e-mail:


In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick.  She had stomach spasms and she was having a hard time getting around. Walking was a major chore.  It took everything she had just to get out of bed; she was in so much pain. 

By March 2002, she had undergone severaltissue and muscle biopsies and was on 24 various prescription medications.   The doctors could not determine what was wrong with her.   She was in so much pain, and so sick she just knew she was dying. 

She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughter's name, and made sure that her younger children were to be taken care of. 

She also wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to Florida (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd. On March 19, I called her to ask how her most recent tests went, and she said they didn't find anything on the test, but they believe she had MS. 

I recalled an article a friend of mine e-mailed to me and I asked my sister if she drank diet soda?   She told me that she did.   As a matter of fact, she was getting ready to crack one open that moment. I told her not to open it, and to stop drinking the diet soda!   I e-mailed her an article my friend, a lawyer, had sent. 

My sister called me within 32 hours after our phone conversation and told me she had stopped drinking the diet soda AND she could walk!  The muscle spasms went away. She said she didn't feel 100% but, she sure felt a lot better. 

She told me she was going to her doctor with this article and would call me when she got home. 

Well, she called me, and said her doctor was amazed!  He is going to call all of his MS patients to find out if they consumed artificial sweeteners of any kind.   In a nutshell, she was being poisoned by the Aspartame in the diet soda... and literally dying a slow and miserable death. 

When she got to Florida March 22, all she had to take was one pill, and that was a pill for the Aspartame poisoning!   She is well on her way to a complete recovery.  And she is walking!   No wheelchair! This article saved her life. 


If it says 'SUGAR FREE' on the label;   DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!    

I have spent several days lecturing at the WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE on 'ASPARTAME,' marketed as 'Nutra Sweet,'  'Equal,' and  'Spoonful.' In the keynote address by the EPA, it was announced that in the United States in 2001 there is an epidemic of multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus.  It was difficult to determine exactly what toxin was causing this to be rampant. 

I stood up and said that I was there to lecture on exactly that subject. 

I will explain why Aspartame is so dangerous:   When the temperature of this sweetener exceeds 86 degrees F, the wood alcohol in ASPARTAME converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants.   The methanol toxicity mimics, among other conditions, multiple 
sclerosis and systemic lupus. 

Many people were being diagnosed in error.   Although multiple sclerosis is not a death 
sentence, Methanol toxicity is! 

Systemic lupus has become almost as rampant as multiple sclerosis, especially with Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi drinkers. 

The victim usually does not know that the Aspartame is the culprit. He or she continues its use; irritating the lupus to such a degree that it may become a life-threatening condition. We have seen patients with systemic lupus become asymptotic [sic, ?asymptomatic], once taken off diet sodas. 

In cases of those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, most of the symptoms disappear. We've seen many cases where vision loss re turned and hearing loss improved markedly. This also applies to cases of tinnitus and fibromyalgia.   During a lecture, I said,  'If you are using ASPARTAME (Nutra Sweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc) and you suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, Cramps, Vertigo, Dizziness, Headaches, Tinnitus, Joint pain, Unexplainable 
depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory loss you probably have ASPARTAME poisoning!'

[The author goes on to attribute ADHD, Gulf War Syndrome, rage attacks and the obesity epidemic to Aspartame…]

* * * * *
My response:

Hey, Dad:

I wasn't ignoring you - it's just that my (apparent) reputation as Dr. Science (wow!) requires that I spend some time researching the evidence before I answer a question like this.  :-)  Here's what I found about the safety or toxicity of aspartame:

- A systematic review (considered the best kind of evidence in medicine - a systematic search of the medical literature available at the time, reviewed and summarized in a reproducible way) in "Critical Reviews in Toxicology" in 2007 found that:  a) even in the highest users of aspartame, the levels of use are far below the FDA and European Food Safety Authority maximum safe dose of 40 mg/kg body weight;  b) acute, subacute and chronic use studies in several mammalian species have shown no evidence of toxicity with doses up to 4000 mg/kg body weight/day;  c) studies of carcinogenicity reveal no evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic in humans, and a few comparison studies (users vs non-users) show no association of aspartame use with cancer;  d)  studies of aspartame and nervous system function show no compelling evidence that aspartame causes changes in human brain function, learning or behavior.
- Tests of genetic toxicity (tendency to cause genetic mutations) showed that, in bacteria and mice, aspartame MAY cause some DNA breakages and mutations, but both saccharin and another sugar substitute called ASK caused more genetic damage than aspartame.  The relevance to these studies in humans is unclear.
- One interesting study in 2005 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that, in patients with alcoholic liver disease, a dose of aspartame FIVE TIMES that consumed by the average person did not cause any adverse effects in liver function, brain function or methanol accumulation.  Why they did this study, I have no idea.
- There are a couple of small studies showing that exposure to aspartame before birth may induce genetic mice embryos.  Again, hard to know how applicable this is to human beings.

Overall, I think this story is probably hokum.  There's been a controversy surrounding these sweeteners since their invention, mostly motivated by mistrust toward things that are "artificial" and therefore unfamiliar and scary.  So far, there's no good evidence that aspartame in amounts used by people in food and drinks has any harmful effects on health.

Then again, I could be wrong.  :-)