The ills of diet soda etc…
An acquaintance of mine asked me the other day, what is so bad about diet soda? She asked because she thought that the trade-off to not have so much sugar was worth it. This led me again to the realization of how ignorant most people are about aspartame.
NutraSweet, the most well known brand name for the artificial sweetener aspartame has made its way into many varied foods and drinks in the American food supply.
Below is a small sampling of the research that is out there on aspartame.
Analysis Shows Nearly 100% of Independent Research Finds Problems with Aspartame
An analysis of peer reviewed medical literature using MEDLINE and other databases was conducted by Ralph G. Walton, MD, Chairman, and The Center for Behavioral Medicine, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Dr. Walton analyzed 164 studies which were felt to have relevance to human safety questions. Of those studies, 74 studies had aspartame industry-related sponsorship and 90 were funded without any industry money.
Of the 90 non-industry-sponsored studies, 83 (92%) identified one or more problems with aspartame. Of the 7 studies which did not find a problem, 6 of those studies were conducted by the FDA. Given that a number of FDA officials went to work for the aspartame industry immediately following approval (including the former FDA Commissioner), many consider these studies to be equivalent to industry-sponsored research.
Of the 74 aspartame industry-sponsored studies, all 74 (100%) claimed that no problems were found with aspartame. This is reminiscent of tobacco industry research where it is primarily the tobacco research which never finds problems with the product, but nearly all of the independent studies do find problems.
The 74 aspartame industry-sponsored studies are those which one invariably sees cited in PR/news reports and reported by organizations funded by Monsanto/Benevia/NutraSweet (e.g., IFIC, ADA). These studies have severe design deficiencies which help to guarantee the “desired” outcomes. These design deficiencies may not be apparent to the inexperienced scientist. Healthcare practitioners and scientists should print out the all of the documents on the Monsanto/NutraSweet Scientific Abuse web page, the Scientific FAQs web page and the Aspartame Toxicity Reaction Report Samples.
Ann Pharmacother 2001 Jun;35(6):702-6
Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins.
Smith JD, Terpening CM, Schmidt SO, Gums JG. Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, USA.
BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is a common rheumatologic disorder that is often difficult to treat effectively. CASE SUMMARY: Four patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome for two to 17 years are described. All had undergone multiple treatment modalities with limited success. All had complete, or nearly complete, resolution of their symptoms within months after eliminating monosodium glutamate (MSG) or MSG plus aspartame from their diet. All patients were women with multiple co morbidities prior to elimination of MSG. All have had recurrence of symptoms whenever MSG is ingested. DISCUSSION: Excitotoxins are molecules, such as MSG and aspartate that act as excitatory neurotransmitters, and can lead to neurotoxicity when used in excess. We propose that these four patients may represent a subset of fibromyalgia syndrome that is induced or exacerbated by excitotoxins or, alternatively, may comprise an excitotoxin syndrome that is similar to fibromyalgia. We suggest that identification of similar patients and research with larger numbers of patients must be performed before definitive conclusions can be made. CONCLUSIONS: The elimination of MSG and other excitotoxins from the diets of patients with fibromyalgia offers a benign treatment option that has the potential for dramatic results in a subset of patients. PMID: 11408989
Title: DANGEROUS DIET DRINKS.
Subject(s): ASPARTAME — Physiological effect; NONNUTRITIVE sweeteners
Side effects; MEMORY
Source: Psychology Today, Mar/Apr 2001, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p20, 2/5p
Section: [Nutrition] Facts&Findings
MIND DANGEROUS DIET DRINKS
CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT YOU HAD FOR LUNCH?
WHAT YOU ATE OR DRANK MIGHT BE THE REASON.
New research suggests that the artificial sweetener aspartame may actually go to your head.
By Peter Rebhahn
Anecdotal evidence that aspartame disrupts memory has been growing since the sugar substitute was approved in the early 1980s, though attempts to prove the claim have so far been equivocal. Previous studies have tested memory by asking aspartame users to remember lists of words or numbers– tests of short-term memory. But according to Timothy M. Barth, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Texas Christian University, those studies focused on the wrong type of memory.
In his study of 90 students, Barth found that participants who regularly drank diet sodas containing aspartame performed as well as nonusers on laboratory tests. However, aspartame users were more likely to report long-term memory lapses like forgetting details of personal routines or whether or not a task had been completed.
“These people aren’t crazy,” says Barth. Instead, “the type of memory problems they report are not the type of memories that have been assessed in the typical laboratory study.”
After reporting his findings at a recent Society for Neuroscience meeting, Barth cautioned that he thinks it’s premature to condemn aspartame. But he does worry about the largely untested effects of long-term use. Already, he has made some converts. “Several of my graduate students who drank diet soda no longer do.”
A long-term study linking aspartame ingestion to lymphomas and leukemias in animals. The full study can be read at: http://www.ramazzini.it/fondazione/docs/AspartameGEO2005.pdf. Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock M.D. commented: “The new study released in the European Journal of Oncology by Morando Soffritti and co-workers should terrify mothers and all those consuming aspartame sweetened products. This was a carefully done study which clearly demonstrated a statistically significant increase in several types of lymphomas and leukemias in rats. Both of these malignancies have increased significantly in this country since the widespread use of aspartame.
“This study confirmed the previous study by Dr. Trocho and co-workers, which also found the formaldehyde breakdown product of aspartame to be damaging to cellular DNA and that this damage was accumulative. The type of damage was a duplicate of that associated with cancers. Along with this most recent study, this means that drinking a single diet cola sweetened with aspartame every day could increase one’s risk of developing a lymphoma or leukemia.
“They also found an increased incidence of malignant brain tumors, even though it was not statistically significant. This does not mean there is no association to brain tumors, since only the animals exposed to aspartame developed the tumors. With children and pregnant women drinking the largest amount of diet colas, this puts their children at the greatest risk of developing one of these horrible diseases. Their study found that even low doses of aspartame could cause these malignancies; yet, the higher the dose, the more cancers that were seen.”
A follow-up study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives showing that there was a significant increase in cancer of the kidney and peripheral nerves. The full published study can be found in PDF format at: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2005/8711/8711.pdf.
A study conducted at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center reported a “41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day.” The findings come from eight years of collecting data by Sharon P. Fowler, MPH and colleagues. The results of the study were reported at the 65th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in San Diet on June 10-14, 2005 (Abstract 1058-P). While this study, by itself, does not prove that aspartame causes weight gain, it adds to the evidence seen in independent research. For example, a study conducted by Dr. H.J. Roberts found that 5% of subjects reporting symptoms from aspartame also reported a “paridoxic weight gain.” (Reactions Attributed to Aspartame-Containing Products: 551 Cases,” Journal of Applied Nutrition, Volume 40, page 85-94). Lavin found that females with eating restraint had a higher Calorie intake subsequent to aspartame intake as opposed to sugar or water intake. (Lavin, J.H., S.J. French, N.W. Read, 1997. “The Effect of Sucrose- and Aspartame-Sweetened Drinks on Energy Intake, Hunger and Food Choice of Female, Moderately Restrained Eaters,” International Journal of Obesity, Volume 21, pages 37-42, 1997.)
One assertion put forward by the food industry is that the amount of harmful substances like methanol and formaldehyde one ingests by drinking aspartame are too small to make a difference in your health. This is an excerpt from http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/methanol.faq
However, clinically, chronic exposure to methanol has been seen to produce headaches, dizziness, nausea, ear buzzing, GI disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness & shooting pains, behavioral disturbances, neuritis, misty vision, vision tunneling, blurring of vision, conjunctivitis, insomnia, vision loss, depression, heart problems (including disease of the heart muscle), pancreatic inflammation (Kavet 1990, Monte 1984, Posner1975). The methanol from aspartame is converted to formaldehyde and then formic acid (DHHS 1993, Liesivuori 1991). Chronic formaldehyde exposure at *very* low doses has been shown to cause immune system and neurological damage and changes as well as headaches, general poor health, permanent genetic damage, and a number of other serious health problems (Fujimaki 1992, John 1994, Liu 1993, Main 1983, Molhave 1986, National Research Council 1981, Shaham 1996, Srivastava 1992, Vojdani 1992, Wantke 1996). One experiment (Wantke 1996) showed that chronic exposure to formaldehyde caused systemic health problems (i.e., poor health) in children at an air concentration of *only*
0.043 – 0.070 parts per million! Clearly, chronic exposure to an extremely small amount of formaldehyde is to be avoided.