Imagine 16,000 tons of 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.
Is a daily intake of aspartame acceptable?
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 it 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) 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). A panel of so-called experts 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 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has done with the current available safety data: Nothing.
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 US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a list of 61 reported adverse reactions 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 soft drinks. 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.
Aspartame 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. When aspartame is combined with the enzyme chymotrypsin in the small intestine, methanol is released and breaks down into formaldehyde, a potent neurotoxin. The US 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-litre beverage containing aspartame, your body creates seven times that amount – about 56 mg of methanol.
But it gets even worse. Because if the product containing it is heated to a temperature above 30 degrees Celsius, ‘free methanol’ is created, speeding up the absorption of methanol, and magnifying the effects of the neurotoxins. Nevertheless, in 1993 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of aspartame in food items such as gelatin desserts that require heating well over the 30-degree range.
The result? People are hurting. According to the FDAs 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, health officials have ignored calls for a ban and have resisted efforts to establish a warning label, 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 Sprite?
Tell your friends and family about the potential dangers of aspartame. Spread the word.