Written by Stanford Owen, M.D. in response to a question about the safety of aspartame-
You and millions of others are duped by the ever-handy encyclopedia called the Internet. It is amazing how often True Believers will take articles published as “scientifically proven” on the Internet yet one cannot find any support in reputable scientific sources such as PubMed.
Even more amazing to me is that few want to believe that information on the Internet can be cleverly presented and disguised as “scientific truth” yet has the primary purpose of corporate espionage—to kill competition by misinformation or lies. Such, in my opinion, is the case for Aspartame.
Aspartame is one of the most studied compounds in the history of human science. No fewer than ninety nations’ medical approval boards (equivalent to our FDA) have performed independent evaluations of aspartame and come to the same conclusion: Aspartame is a safe and effective artificial sweetener.
Aspartame, also known as NutraSweet or AminoSweet, is a methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids l-aspartic acid and l-phenylalanine. These two amino acids are fused to create a product 200 times sweeter than natural sugar. It blends with many foods with little after-taste making it ideal as a sugar replacement.
Controversy arose when some (competitors?) suggested that strongly acidic or alkaline conditions could generate methanol by hydrolysis. The amount of methanol or phenylalanine consumed in many foods is far greater in content than the amount from aspartame even under the most extreme conditions. Fruit juice, for instance, has far greater concentrations of methanol. Even in massive doses (over 200 mg/kg) no aspartame is found in the blood due to the rapid breakdown in the intestine.
Others promote (and I do mean promote) the notion that formaldehyde is formed from the breakdown products of methanol. The human body forms large amount of formaldehyde naturally and is very adept at oxidizing it to form harmless formic acid. A glass of wine will form infinitely more formaldehyde than a soft drink containing aspartame. Neurotoxicity (brain damage) is claimed to be a primary outcome of use.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid required for growth and maintenance of life. Those with Pheylketonuria, an inherited condition that prevents metabolism of phenylalanine, are warned to avoid foods containing phenylalanine. The amount of phenylalanine that would be formed from aspartame is miniscule, even in massive doses, to cause harm even in Phenlyketonuria.
I could go on and on but instead post below a short list of references for those interested in knowing more. I am sure the True Believers will not bother to read any of these references. True Believers cause harm by rendering fear to those most at risk: the obese or diabetic for whom
sugar is not only toxic but lethal. I’ve had more than a few diabetics tell me they use “natural” sugar and not artificial sweeteners due to concerns raised by friends reading on the Internet! These people are not just ignorant, they are dangerous to my patients—and that makes me furious.
Other artificial sweeteners are also safe though not nearly as well studied as aspartame. All are infinitely safer that sugar or even carbohydrate when mixed with saturated fat i.e.: bread and butter. (read my article Saturated Carbs™).
The list below is a short list of publications on the subject. Read and teach—you can really help someone.
Below are links to legitimate organizations that verify the safety of aspartame, and even encourage it, for daily use as part of a healthy diet.
American Cancer Society
American Diabetes Association
American Council on Science and Health
American Alzheimer’s Association
American Academy of Family Physicians
Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association
The Mayo Clinic
Overview of Safety and Regulatory Status: Please note the ingredient levels in aspartame compared to a glass of milk and 4oz piece of chicken.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use and safety of aspartame for women during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and for children
Aspartame Controversy and Conspiracy Theory