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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
themusesbitch
Jul. 19th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
That said...
... it still gives me headaches. Even chewing sugar-free gum.
kalivor
Jul. 19th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC)
Well, looking at the sites that are cited by the webpage, it seems pretty clear that aspartame doesn't cause brain tumors. And, in short-term studies, it doesn't seem to cause any health problems whatsoever.

However, none of the studies look for non-brain-tumor health problems over a long period of aspartame use, and one of the sites (the FDA) states: "[individuals with certain health problems] have a problem with aspartame because they do not effectively metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, one of aspartame's components. High levels of this amino acid in body fluids can cause brain damage."

Another site that seems reputable indicates that "It is unlikely that the average person without PKU would consume enough aspartame to reach a potentially hazardous level."

In short, it appears that moderate aspartame use over short periods of time is safe for 99.99% of the population. Long term? Drinking diet sodas in movie-theatre recommended quantities? Although it's certainly safe enough to be approved and sold on shelves (sugar is dangerous to some people too), I'm not sure it's a wise idea to trust a man-made chemical that has no long-term human studies backing it's safety as a regular additive to your food.

I think that this site might put it best: "If you consume more than a couple of servings per day, consider cutting back. And, to be on the safe side, don't give aspartame to infants."

That site also mentions the dearth of long-term studies, and notes that saccharin (the pre-aspartame artificial sweetener) was around for about 30 years before studies revealed that it was carcinogenic. Revelations about aspartame may still be a decade away.

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke's site indicates that "some people may be sensitive to aspartame and may experience headache or fatigue. Pregnant women are advised to ingest only moderate amounts of aspartame, and people with phenylketonuria (a rare, inherited metabolic disease) should not ingest any." Again, not a ringing endorsement of the sweetener.

Aspartame is a neurotoxin. A very weak one that doesn't cause serious short term illness, unless you have a pre-existing condition, but a neurotoxin nonetheless. It's toxicity is not debunked, it's just not as severe as some idiots seem to think ...
tulzscha
Jul. 19th, 2004 02:26 pm (UTC)
saccharin (the pre-aspartame artificial sweetener) was around for about 30 years before studies revealed that it was carcinogenic.

Btw, saccharin has been delisted (in the US) as a carcinogen. Because it's not in humans, only rats.
kalivor
Jul. 19th, 2004 03:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but my point was that it was put in food without knowing enough about it for around 30 years. It could've been carcinogenic.

Nobody's done any long term studies on aspartame, despite problems with previous sugar substitutes. We only know that it doesn't cause brain tumors. In rats.
night__watch
Jul. 20th, 2004 12:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks to both curgoth and kalivor for doing more digging on this question.

Let me put this simply: I don't trust the FDA. Aspartame is just one example of things the FDA says is safe, and maybe it is and maybe it isn't. Kalivor made my main point already: there are hardly any long-term tests on ANY chemicals.

Yes, I know that "natural" chemicals can be deadly too. Thing is, I *know* that if a can of food contains deadly nightshade, it will make me sick. I lack the same knowledge of Red Dye #5 -- but I think I'm hardly being paranoid if I question the long-term health effects of eating "synthetic" products.
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