Outside in and inside out! A place to store ideas about education.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Aspartame emails: true or not?

I've just received and email regarding Aspartame as a sweet poison, which is basically similar to this:

so i responded to my yahoogroup with a small internet-research:

The Aspartame email has been alarming for me, alarming in two ways:

1. It might be true, and I'll have to both forward the email to all my friends, as well as it will be a pain to avoid all the aspartame-laced processed foods in the market, and
2. It might be a false claim, so I have to make sure to alert all those who have received the email, so that they will NOT forward it to all their friends.

Other replies to this email rightly asks where the information came from. The thing about these kinds of emails is that they start with a very personal account (... my sister this or that) and ends with something that is hidden public knowledge (I will explain why aspartame is so dangerous...). However, nowhere in the email explains who "I" am and who "my sister" is and who "her doctor in Florida" is. So we are left wondering: who are these people and why should I believe them?

So in the effort of being a critical consumer of internet information, I decided to google-investigate some of the information from these emails and pass the results of my investigation on to you:

1. There is actually a statement about this from the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH: saying that this is an internet hoax. It belabors the misinformation in internet hoaxes and the lack of accountability in spreading such emails. Furhtermore, it says that aspartame is safe. And I quote: "Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested substances in the U.S. food supply."

But then again, with the power of the internet in our hands, we can invesigate a little further and see if there really are researches on the health effects of aspartame consumption. So I go on to the NCBI (of the National Libraries of Medicine) to do a bit of library research. Here's what I found:

(sorry for the lousy formatting, as I'm copy-pasting)

2. It is bad for some aspartame-sensitive people with mood disorders.
Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population.
Walton RG, Hudak R, Green-Waite RJ.

3. "It appears that some people are particularly susceptible to headaches caused by aspartame and may want to limit their consumption." from, Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial.
Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT Jr, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed


4. "Upon ingestion, aspartame is broken, converted, and oxidized into formaldehyde in various tissues."

Dermatitis. 2008 May-Jun;19(3):E10-1.Click here to read Links
Formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines: a possible connection.
Jacob SE, Stechschulte S.

5. "scientists disagree about the relationships between sweeteners and lymphomas, leukemias, cancers of the bladder and brain, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and systemic lupus. Recently these substances have received increased attention due to their effects on glucose regulation."

AAOHN J. 2008 Jun;56(6):251-9; quiz 260-1.Links
The potential toxicity of artificial sweeteners.
Whitehouse CR, Boullata J, McCauley LA.

6. For rats under laboratory conditions, "The results of this mega-experiment indicate that APM (aspartame), in the tested experimental conditions, is a multipotential carcinogenic agent."

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Sep;1076:559-77.Click here to read Links
Results of long-term carcinogenicity bioassay on Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to aspartame administered in feed.
Belpoggi F, Soffritti M, Padovani M, Degli Esposti D, Lauriola M, Minardi F.

7. This was then contested by this other study, claiming that "CONCLUSIONS Under the conditions of this 9-month feed study, there was no evidence of carcinogenic activity of aspartame in male or female p53 haploinsufficient mice exposed to 3,125, 6,250, 12,500, 25,000, or 50,000 ppm."

Natl Toxicol Program Genet Modif Model Rep. 2005 Oct;(1):1-222.
NTP report on the toxicology studies of aspartame (CAS No. 22839-47-0) in genetically modified (FVB Tg.AC hemizygous) and B6.129-Cdkn2atm1Rdp (N2) deficient mice and carcinogenicity studies of aspartame in genetically modified [B6.129-Trp53tm1Brd (N5) haploinsufficient] mice (feed studies).
National Toxicology Program.

8. There are several papers/letters on these effects of aspartame, however they don't have abstracts so I have no idea what is in them. All pretty recent research, too. YOu can look them up at the NCBI website (under PubMed):

South Med J. 2007 May;100(5):543.Click here to read Links
Aspartame-induced thrombocytopenia.
South Med J. 2008 Sep;101(9):969.Click here to read Links

Comment on:
South Med J. 2008 Feb;101(2):166-73.

Overlooked aspartame-induced hypertension

Carcinogenicity of aspartame in rats not proven.
Magnuson B, Williams GM.

Finally, as my own personal conclusion:

There are more agencies attesting to the general safety of aspartame comsumption, however, there is still the raging scientific debate which surrounds this assertion. THis is actually a case of science in motion, when scientists come up with data that either supports of disproves some claims. I suppose in the coming years, they will come up with morre conclusive evidence as to whether aspartame is harmful to health. until then...

Natural is best! Let's just stick to sugar, eh?


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