FDA Hid Research Showing that Aspartame is Dangerous

Here is a lot of information about this. The commercial name for aspartame is Nutrasweet. Because of worries about its neurotoxicity I switched to Splenda long ago. But if the FDA approval process is so deeply flawed they approved Nutrasweet, how safe is Splenda? In China, I’ve managed to pretty much avoid artificial sweeteners.

10 Replies to “FDA Hid Research Showing that Aspartame is Dangerous”

  1. Perhaps artificial sweeteners are harmful but the site you linked to does not inspire confidence. In scanning popular articles on the site, I learned that vaccines cause the flu, swine flu was engineered in a lab, and there is a conspiracy involving AIDS research in Africa and exploitation of natural resources. A few of the many claims on this site may be even correct but good luck separating the fact from the fiction.
    Here is a key sentence from the linked article, “The sweetener should no longer be used for human consumption, although perhaps, with appropriate warning, it could be sold as an effective ant poison.” There are many challenges involved in evaluating the effect of artificial sweeteners upon humans. However, it should be much easier to evaluate the claim that aspartame is an effective ant poison. If this claim is true, it could lend credibility to the theory that aspartame is bad for humans. If the claim is false, it casts into doubt the credibility of other evidence in the article.

    Guess what happened when Snopes.com investigated the ant poison claim?

  2. The FDA’s processes are based on the linear dose-response hypothesis, which we know is false. So what makes you think Aspartame is a significant hazard? Given a default assumption of hormesis and a U-shaped or J-shaped rather than linear dose-response curve, for all we know aspartame might cause cancer in the usual lab-rat experiments AND simultaneously be protective or neutral in typical human doses.

    Running some numbers: they dosed rats with 0, .75, 1.5, and 3.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. A can of diet coke has 131 mg of asparatame and I weigh around 81 kilos, so if my math is right I’d have to drink ~470,000 cans of diet coke per day to reach .75 g/kg. I do drink quite a lot of diet coke, but I think it’s safe to say the amount I drink is enough *lower* than 470,000 cans per day that other effects might predominate at the level I consume than did at the level those rats consumed.

    I agree that the FDA’s process is deeply flawed, but the flaws mostly go in the direction of not allowing people to take *enough* risks with their health.

  3. Wait, the math isn’t right – it’s off by a factor of a thousand. Nonetheless, the underlying point still works. Hormesis. Nonlinear dose response.

    Oh, and the main reason people think Splenda is probably safer is that it’s even sweeter per unit volume than aspartame so you need less of it in your food or in your body to produce the same effect.

  4. Glen, it is the suppression of evidence that concerns me. I think the ant poison claim was a joke. True, the website contains a lot of nonsense. As for whether or not Nutrasweet is truly harmless, as you seem to believe, what caused the vast increase in brain cancer over the last decade or so? I don’t know. I cannot rule out the possibility that it has been caused by Nutrasweet, but if you can I’d love to hear why.

    Here is an article about the increase:


  5. I think it is really odd to pick NutraSweet – out of all the changes in the world – as the *one* likely possibility. We ingest zillions of chemicals every day that haven’t been studied as thoroughly as Nutrasweet. Almost everything is cancerous or deadly if you eat enough of it, including many natural food ingredients. I can’t positively rule out Nutrasweet as a factor but I see no reason why we’d suspect it more than any other dietary or technological change. I also can’t rule out: drinking Starbucks coffee, greater access to dental care (including X-rays), wearing Walkman or iPod headsets, using cellphones, obesity, sunscreen, tanning, watching television, taking megavitamins…the list is endless.

    One thing we can say for sure is that *some* of the change is caused by better scanning technologies, greater affordability of health care, and higher expectations of doctors. Another thing we can say for sure is that overall life expectancy in the US is still climbing and overall cancer-related deaths have been decreasing despite this “vast increase” in one type. (Do you have a chart of that vast increase? I found this one from the UK:
    http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/brain/incidence/?a=5441 )

  6. Seth, I think you instinctively give too much credit to those who doubt conventional medical wisdom. Yes, I agree that the aspartame was mentioned in the article as ant poison in a humorous fashion but what you do not acknowledge is that the humor is predicated on it being true that aspartame does indeed kill ants. The author of the article you cite reveals no awareness of the fact that claims of aspartame’s ant poisoning ability have been debunked by Snopes. Instead, the author links to yet another claim that aspartame does function as an ant poison. The author reveals an inability to separate fiction from fact. This does not necessarily mean all other claims in the article are wrong, of course, but it does raise questions about credibility.

  7. I don’t doubt there’s been an increase, I just doubt that the pattern of the increase matches Nutrasweet particularly well. It’s not enough to search for confirming evidence for a hypothesis; you have to search for disconfirming evidence too; your sources on this issue don’t seem to be doing that. So here is some:


    “A study of about half a million people, published in 2006, compared people who drank aspartame-containing beverages with those who did not. Results of the study showed that increasing levels of consumption were not associated with any risk of lymphomas, leukemias, or brain cancers in men or women. “

  8. This post is garbage. But interested people should know the facts, so here they are.

    The reader should know that aspartame is perfectly safe; it is perhaps the most studied substance in history. It is approved for use as a sweetener by all the world’s relevant regulatory authorities. Its safety has been assessed and affirmed by virtually every relevant regulatory authority in the world and just reaffirmed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, see their website). Aspartame is finding use in many products in the USA, because it is listed as GRAS (generally accepted as safe). That means it can be used in virtually anything, because it poses no known hazard at the dosages involved.

    Aspartame has been used by millions and millions of people for over twenty years without any viable health issues. There is, however, an internet conspiracy theory claiming things both about its approval and its safety, attributing 90+ problems to aspartame. But FDA approval was over twenty years ago and is irrelevant now anyway. Aspartame’s methanol is metabolized by the folate enzyme system. If real at all, any health claims are likely personal sensitivity issues stemming from the still widespread folate deficiency, a folate enzyme (polymorphism) problem, or a homocysteine toxicity issue explained by folate and other biochemical issues. The interested reader can read my new discoveries explaining such sensitivity and confirming aspartame safety in my comments to http://blog.rv.net/2009/09/green-tea-a-natural-alternative-to-sugary-sodas/comment-page-1/#comment-85221.

    The conspiracy theory also has no real scientific merit. For more on specifics, see Snopes comments: http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-q=aspartame&sp-a=00062d45-sp00000000&sp-advanced=1&sp-p=all&sp-w-control=1&sp-w=alike&sp-date-range=-1&sp-x=any&sp-c=100&sp-m=1&sp-s=0.

    While there are no scientific papers that support any of this website’s claims, there is much evidence to deny every one. First, consider the extensive review of aspartame safety (Magnuson, http://www.fte.ugent.be/vlaz/Magnuson2007.pdf) that discusses aspartame science and addresses earlier criticisms. Second, consider that the only papers questioning aspartame safety have been or are in the process of being dismissed as valid criticisms. Only two groups report data suggesting any concern with aspartame that cannot be dismissed outright. These are multiple papers from the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF, Soffritti et al) and a single paper by a Spanish group (Alemany, actually Trocho et al). But both are mistaken scientific papers. The ERF papers are so badly done that they likely will be withdrawn by the journal. In work reported only in abstract form, I found in 2008 that the ERF experiments were fundamentally flawed in at least three ways fatal to their acceptance. Full presentation is in process. But another fatal flaw has just been reported. All the ERF rats in many studies, not just on aspartame but on other compounds as well, were infected likely with Mycoplasma pulmoni (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19430000?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum). The consequence of that infection is that everything the ERF has reported on the carcinogenicity of not only aspartame, but on many other chemicals they claimed to be carcinogenic is but an artifact of their animal’s standing infection. In turn their artifacts may well be a consequence of their prior and developing folate deficiencies or homocysteine toxicity issues. The other work by Alemany possessed similar flaws to what I suggest for the ERF work. But, because their flaws enhanced binding of radiolabeled methanol in aspartame and facilitated their investigation into its binding targets, they are mostly experimentally acceptable, if still unacknowledged. They found that aspartame’s methanol-derived radiolabeled binding to protein and to DNA in rats. But from this discovery they jumped to the conclusion that this meant aspartame constituted a hazard. They came to the wrong conclusions about aspartame safety, but their seemingly honest error arose because they simply did not identify the actual proteins and DNA bound. Good scientific evidence uncovered over the past years now suggests structures for those proteins and for the DNA that indicate this radiolabeled binding not only poses no hazard at all, but actually proves aspartame safety (also to be published). Scientific dismissal of both works leaves nothing left to dispute aspartame safety!

    Third, another of multiple confirmations of aspartame’s safety was reported this year: Artificial sweeteners and the risk of gastric, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers in Italy, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661082?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum. Not only does this paper support aspartame safety, it came from the same country and a far more prestigious group than the ERF work that questioned aspartame (above). Time after time aspartame has been found to be perfectly safe.

    (Also the cited link’s comments about brain cancer are totally garbage too. Besides being old and out of date, brain cancer has been clearly associated with folate deficiency and related issues, but that is another separate post.)

    John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

    (FYI, the author has absolutely no financial or biasing connection with the aspartame, the soft drink or their related industries. The author has a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry (Pharmacy) from the University of Iowa, postdoctoral experience at Yale University (Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry) and at Vanderbilt University and taught nutritional toxicology at the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) besides having conducted federally funded research at Vanderbilt, UIUC, and at several other universities before recently entering into retirement.)

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