Ever since aspartame was first approved in foods and carbonated beverages as a sweetener, there has been a fire storm of controversy surrounding it. Although the FDA claims that it is one of the safest and most thoroughly tested food additives ever approved, some believe it has many side effects. A recently released Italian study reaffirms their own research from 2005 that there is an increase in cancer risks associated with aspartame. With each study citing its dangers, there is one that counters its conclusions and states the opposite. The FDA is once again busy proclaiming that it is safe and that there is no link to cancer. Yet many well researched studies by respected individuals and institutions point to aspartame as the cause of toxic reactions and illnesses. Is this a case of the FDA covering up potential risks associated with aspartame to protect the profits of large corporations? This wouldn't be the first time they have put greed ahead of our health and safety. Despite the FDA's assurances, many are making a conscious effort to avoid it in their diet. This is being done without suggestions from their doctors or support from traditional medicine. In fact in some cases, it is the patients who are educating their own physicians to the potential risks associated with aspartame.
The approval of aspartame in foods in 1981 was done under questionable circumstances, with some in the FDA recommending that it not be approved. In 1996, one of the FDA's own toxicologists, Dr. Adrian Gross, warned of it's potential to cause brain tumors and cancer. If this admission is true, it would completely violate amendments, which forbid adding any substance to food that is cancer-causing. Aspartame is not so much an additive as it is a drug and it interacts with other drugs. Methanol or wood alcohol constitutes one third of the aspartame molecule and is classified as a severe metabolic poison or narcotic. Although possible side effects can be immediate, it has been called the silent slow killer because it appears to cause gradual damage over long term use. It has brought more complaints than any other additive, and in 1995 the FDA was forced to release a list of 92 possible symptoms related to aspartame intake.
It is entirely possible that aspartame is the cause of many diseases and mystery illnesses. It breaks down into a solution, and as a result is able to travel throughout the body and deposit with any tissue. Possible side effects vary from person to person because it is directly related to genetic individuality and physical weaknesses. Some researchers claim that it is responsible for the epidemic of diabetes and connected with the sharp increase in obesity. Other studies have found that it causes depletion of serotonin that can lead to behavioral and psychiatric problems. There have been numerous side effects linked to aspartame which include blindness, headaches, migraines, dizziness, sleeplessness, memory loss, buzzing or ringing sound, nausea, shortness of breath, and allergies. Some leading doctors and researchers have cited that it might trigger, mimic, and even cause diseases such as Lyme, Graves', Alzheimer's, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and others. It has also been linked to sever depression, birth defects, suicidal tendencies, aggressive behavior, hyperactivity in children, and death. Some say that aspartame is being used as a scapegoat to explain the cause of a wide number of ailments.
Leading Italian researcher Dr. Morando Soffritti concluded from his first study in 2005 that aspartame leads to higher rates of lymphoma and leukemia in rats. He found that aspartame consisting of two amino acids and a methanol binding agent caused the cancer. The FDA concluded after a review of the study that there was no data to support his claims. The European Food Safety Authority came to the same conclusions. Results of a second study through the Ramazzini Institute backed up the findings of the first one. It dealt with the negative health effects associated with low doses of aspartame that would be equivalent to the intake of diet drinks on a daily basis. Dr. Soffritti's second study also confirmed that it is carcinogenic.
Aspartame is now found in over 6000 products including soft drinks, gum, yogurt and many other sugar-free items. Personally, if I am going to have sugar, I prefer that it is in it's natural form. Often I find myself checking labels and ingredients, trying to stay away from aspartame. My experiences include getting bad headaches after drinking diet colas or chewing gum containing aspartame. Although I don't have any scientific proof that aspartame was the cause, that was enough for me to start avoiding it. My article is intended to serve more as a cautionary warning to aspartame's possible side effects. There are many different conflicting studies and it can be very confusing. Ultimately, we are left with the decision whom to believe and trust.
Many people now associate some of their health issues as a direct result of aspartame poisoning. Although I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, it only makes sense to keep ones diet simple and include plenty of raw, natural foods and to avoid artificial, refined, and prepared foods packed with preservatives. Even our fresh foods are contaminated with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. As consumers, we can dictate the market. For example, there has been an explosion in the availability of organic foods, which was a direct result of consumer demands. The British Supermarket Sainsbury's is in the process of banning artificial colors, flavors, and aspartame in their own brand foods and soft drinks. This is being done as a result of studies showing that this is what customers are demanding. The aspartame controversy isn't over, as some continue to claim that it is safe, while others warn of its dangers. In the end, the use of aspartame becomes a personal issue.