Aspartame -- Sweet Or Sour? Thea Jourdan, The London Daily Mail 2004.10.04: Murray 2004.10.18 rmforall
Aspartame -- Sweet Or Sour? Thea Jourdan, The London Daily Mail 2004.10.04:
Murray 2004.10.18 rmforall
[ Comments by Rich Murray are in square brackets. I have added spacing for
increased readability and added emphasis, without changing text.
This UK newspaper article is unusual for its clarity and specifics about the
open secret that the 11% methanol component of aspartame, the same level
provided by diet sodas and by dark wines and liquors ( agreed by experts to
be the major cause of "morning after" hangovers ) is converted by the body
largely into formaldehyde and then largely into formic acid, both potent,
cumulative toxins that affect every cell and tissue.
Hundreds of case reports suggest that most aspartame reactors have been
using over 2 liters, about 6 12-oz cans diet soda, daily for years, while
three controlled experiments in 1988, 1993, and 1994 by non-industry funded
teams found that a quarter to a half of vulnerable people using 6 to 12 cans
daily for 1 to 4 weeks had symptoms, especially headaches. ( summarized at
the end of this post )
I conjecture that the author was required to recommend aspartame at the end,
but, all the same, she certainly "got her licks in". ]
Food e-News Edition 205: 06 - 13 October 2004
**Aspartame -- sweet or sour?
Thea Jourdan, writing for the Daily Mail (12/10/04), examines the pros and
cons of aspartame.
On the positive side she lists beating obesity, helping diabetics and
improving dental health in children.
On the negative side, she points out that many reputable scientists are
concerned by the fact that aspartame can break down into methanol, formic
acid and formaldehyde, all of which can have toxic effects.
She also claims that numerous studies have associated aspartame with
headache and migraine, and that nine [ actually 3 ] cases of seizures were
reported in the medical journal The Lancet.
See also Food e-News Edition 204 06/10/04).
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ The London Daily Mail Online
ASPARTAME --SWEET OR SOUR?
It`s the worlds favourite sweetener.
But some experts fear aspartame could be toxic. Who`s right?
by Thea Jourdan
Many of us now eat artificial sweeteners every day -- often without knowing
Intensely sweet products such as aspartame, marketed under brand names
including Nutrasweet and Candarel are found in thousands of products,
including soft drinks, yoghurts, and low-alcohol beers.
Although intense sweeteners are anything from 200 to 400 times sweeter than
sugar, they contain hardly any calories. Sugar free chewing gum is more
popular than the sugary version and diet coke made with aspartame, now
outsell regular coke in Scotland.
Aspartame works by fooling our taste buds into thinking we are enjoying real
sugar. In fact, it is made from two building blocks of protein, aspartic
acid and phenylalanine, found in many everyday foods such as meat, fish, cheese, and milk.
As our appetite for it increases, so do the concerns that we may be putting
our health at risk. Over the years, studies have looked into claims that
overconsumption of aspartame leads to blindness, seizures, migraine, and
Meanwhile the United Kingdom Foods Standards Agency continues to approve its
use, insisting that it is safe for the general population, including
pregnant women and nursing mothers, children, diabetics, and people on a
So are we better off sticking to sugar -- or could a spoonful of aspartame
actually improve our health?
THE PROS: BEATING OBESITY
More than half the adults in the UK are overweight -- a fifth are obese.
Since 1980 the number of obese adults in the UK has tripled.
Dr. Nick Finer, Honorary Consultant in Obesity Medicine at Addenbrookes
Hospital in Cambridge, [ Competing interests: Medical Adviser to
Ajinomoto ] believes replacing sugar with low calorie sweeteners in the diet
is one way to reduce obesity levels, particularly among teenagers.
"There is a clear link between the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and
obesity in children," he says, "and we are not going to change the fact
that children have a sweet tooth, but we can offer an alternative."
A 330 ml can of soft drink sweetened with sugar contains around 150 calories
compared to one or two calories in a can of soft drink sweetened with
The latest national diet and nutrition survey of young people aged between
four and eighteen showed the main source of sugar intake is carbonated soft
drinks, which account for almost a quarter of the sugar in the diet of older
boys and girls.
A switch to low or no sugar soft drinks could have a significant impact on
their calorie intake.
A recent report revealed that obesity among children aged six to fifteen
trebled from five per cent in 1990 to 16 per cent in 2001. It warned that if
these trends continued, one third of adults would be obese by 2020.
Type 2 diabetes, which normally develops in late adulthood, is becoming more
common as obesity levels rise. It now affects four per cent of the adult
population in the UK.
In the USA this figure stands at a staggering eight per cent of all adults.
This disease occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to break
down sugar in the blood.
Phil Casey, Care Adviser at Diabetes UK, says that intense sweeteners can
be useful for diabetics because they do not affect blood glucose levels. He
adds, "but sugar does not have to banned completely."
Diabetics who use sweeteners or products sweetened with them should ensure
that they stay within the acceptable daily intake (ADI). This -- the safe
limit set by government is -- ADI 40 mg per kilogram of body weight. An
average person of average weight can drink in excess of TWO LITRES OF DIET
COKE A DAY without ill effects.
Tooth decay is perhaps the most common childrens disease in the UK The
combination of bacteria and sugary food causes acids to form in the mouth,
which can slowly dissolve the teeth.
The 2003 Childrens Dental Health Survey revealed that a significant number
of five year olds were still suffering serious dental decay, though the oral
health of older children had improved slightly.
John Hilsdon of the British Dental Association says, "A significant problem
still persists and there is a widening gap between children with the best
and worst teeth. LOW-SUGAR DRINKS WOULD BE A LOGICAL WAY TO REMOVE SOME OF
THE SUGAR FROM CHILDRENS DIETS.
CHEWING SUGAR FREE GUM CAN ALSO HELP TO PROTECT TEETH."
One study showed that children who regularly chewed on gum containing the
sweetener sorbitol had a 13 per cent reduction in tooth decay.
THE CONS: TOXICITY FEARS
Aspartame has been approved by health and regulatory authorities in 100
countries throughout the world.
Despite this, many reputable scientists still have concerns that aspartame
may cause a range of health problems. Most relate to the way it is broken
down inside the body.
When we eat aspartame, it is converted into methanol, formaldehyde and
Methanol can be toxic at very low levels, and there has been no extensive
testing of the effects of chronic, long term exposure.
The amount of methanol needed to cause acute toxicity varies widely from
person to person.
Chronic formaldehyde exposure, at very low doses, has been shown to cause
immune system and neurological damage, as well as headaches, poor general
health, permanent genetic damage, and a number of other serious problems.
High levels of formic acid in the body can damage the retina, leading to
Numerous studies have associated aspartame with headache and migraine. In a
survey of 190 patients seen at the Montefiore Headache unit in New York, 8.2
per cent of the patients reported aspartame as the factor that caused their
A study of patients who suffered migraine also found that aspartame had a
negative effect. Following a base line period where the subject tracked
their headaches and their diets, they were given 300 mg of aspartame or a
placebo, four times daily, for four weeks. [ 1200 mg daily, the same as six
12-oz diet sodas, Koehler SM, Glaros A , 1988 ]
The placebo group had no increase in headaches but around half of the
subjects who took aspartame had a large increase.
Scientists concluded that the most likely reason was the breakdown of
aspartame into other chemicals, including aspartic acid and formaldehyde.
A LINK TO SEIZURES?
Among others, The Lancet medical journal has published reports of nine
[ actually 3 ] cases of seizures linked to aspartame use.
In an independent study of aspartame in children with epilepsy, it was shown
that a single dose could provoke the sort of brain waves that cause
One theory is that the epileptic seizures may be triggered by the effects of
The health benefits of using aspartame to battle obesity certainly outweigh
the proven negative problems. Professor Tom Sanders, Head of Nutritional
Science at Kings College London, is one expert who believes that the
positive advantages of a low-sugar diet outweigh the possible risks
associated with intense sweeteners such as aspartame. He says, "The key
point is that we can help people to live healthier lives if they can reduce
their calorie intake. Sweeteners have a valuable role to play in the fight
From: "roger.f" <roger.f@...>
To: <email@example.com>; <Sh0shanna@...>; "margaret russell"
<margaretjrussell@...>; "Dr. Betty Martini" <bettym19@...>
Subject: [Aspartame Support] links for sweet and sour story
Date: Monday, October 18, 2004 5:17 PM
Hi all, I have enclosed some addresses and links for the Daily Mail "Sweet
Or Sour" story. [ also a few emails courtesy of Rich Murray -- all glory
to Google, from whom no one can hide ]
Phil Casey: Care Adviser, Diabetes UK, 10 Queen Anne Street, London, W1M
Nick Finer: Consultant for obesity medicine, Addenbrookes hospital, Hills
Road, Cambridge, OB2 2QQ nf237@...
[ Competing interests: Medical Adviser to Ajinomoto ]
John Hilsdon: Media Officer, British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street,
London, W1G 8YS TEL: 02075634145
John Hilsdon at the BDA press office on 020 7563 4145 or j.hilsdon@...
Dr. Thomas A. Sanders Bsc PHD RNutr: Department of Nutrition & Dietetics,
Kings College, London, SE1 8WA tom.sanders@...
London Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2, Derry Street, London, W8 5TT
Thea Jourdan, who wrote this article seems to do work for many of the London
newspapers on a variety of subjects from money to diet, bad backs etc.
There is a saying in England "jack of all trades, but master of none" seems
to sum this lady up. Hope you find some of these useful. I have written to
the writer and Dr. Sanders. Think I will contact these other so called
experts as well. Midnight now, going to bed.
Yours, Peggy Farr
PLEASE TRY AND RECRUIT MEMBERS - SEND THEM TO
PRINT OUT THIS FLIER AND HAND IT OUT TO PEOPLE:
CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE!! http://presidiotex.com/aspartame
FREE ASPARTAME BUMPER STICKER http://ojinaga.com/bumperstickers/freesticker/
to subscribe to this list, send a blank e-mail to:
Our chat room is at http://pub43.bravenet.com/chat/show.php/3648148879
Yahoo! Groups Links
Gold: Koehler: Walton: Van Den Eeden: Leon:
aspartame toxicity: Murray 2001.06.04 rmforall four double-blind studies
Headache 1988 Feb; 28(1): 10-4
The effect of aspartame on migraine headache.
Koehler SM, Glaros A PMID: 3277925, UI: 88138777
Shirley M. Koehler, Ph.D. Department of Psychology
Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital
3599 University Boulevard, South Jacksonville, Florida 32216
(904) 858-7650 shirley.koehler@...
Alan Glaros glarosa@... 816-235-2074
They conducted a double-blind study of patients, ages 18-55, who had
a medical diagnosis of classical migraines (normally having 1-3
migraines in 4-weeks), who were not on medications (other than
analgesics), and who suspected that aspartame had a negative effect on
their migraine headaches. The subjects were given 1200 mg daily,
aspartame or placebo, for four weeks, about 17 mg/kg. The placebo
group had no increase in headaches. Approximately half of the subjects
(5 of 11) who took aspartame had a large, statistically significant
(p = 0.02), increase in migraine headache frequency, but not in
intensity or duration, compared to baseline or placebo. Only 11 of
25 subjects completed the program: 8 dropped out, 4 began new
medications, 2 had incomplete records. They were at home.
Since 1/3 of the subjects dropped out, they may have been choosing
to avoid headaches-- were they unpaid? To achieve statistical
signifance with only 11 subjects hints that the incidence rate from
aspartame is very high, about 1/2, for migraine cases who believe
that they are hurt by aspartame.
eight depressed people react strongly to aspartame, Prof. Ralph G. Walton,
MD, 1993 double-blind study, full text: Murray 2004.04.26 rmforall
Walton, RG, "Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in
patients from a vulnerable population," 1993, with Robert Hudak and
Ruth J. Green-Waite, Biological Psychiatry, 34 (1), 13-17.
Ralph G. Walton, MD, Prof. of Clinical Psychology, Northeastern Ohio
Universities, College of Medicine, Dept. of Psychiatry, Youngstown,
OH 44501, Chairman, The Center for Behavioral Medicine,
Northside Medical Center, 500 Gypsy Lane, P.O. Box 240 Youngstown,
OH 44501 330-740-3621 rwalton193@...
Eight depressed patients, ages 24-60, and five non-depressed controls,
ages 24-56, employed at the hospital, were given for 7 days either
aspartame or a placebo, and then after a 3 day break, given the
opposite. Each got 2100 mg aspartame daily, 30 mg/kg bodyweight,
equal to 10-12 cans of diet soda daily, about a gallon. Despite the
very small number of subjects, the results were dramatic and
statistically significant. The eight depressed patients reported with
aspartame, compared to placebo, much higher levels of nervousness,
trouble remembering, nausea, depression, temper, and malaise. (For each
symptom, p<0.01) The five normals did not report strong enough
differences between aspartame and placebo to be significant.
Initially, the study was to be on a group of 40, but was halted by the
Institutional Review Board because of severe reactions among 3 of the
Again, statistical significance with only 8 depressed patients:
"In this study, patients most often began to report significant
symptoms after day 2 or 3." The incidence rate is very high,
indeed, about 1/3. The most common symptoms are entirely typical
of thousands of case histories.
Stephen K. Van Den Eeden, T.D. Koepsell, W.T. Longstreth, Jr,
G. van Belle, J.R. Daling, B. McKnight, "Aspartame ingestion and
headaches: a randomized crossover trial," 1994, Neurology, 44, 1787-93
Steven K. Van Den Eeden,PhD 550-450-2202 skv@...
Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program
3505 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611-5714
In their introduction, they comment:
"In addition, the FDA had received over 5,000 complaints as of July,
1991 in a passive surveillance system to monitor adverse side effects.
(17) Neurologic problems constitute the primary complaints in these
and several other case series, with headaches accounting for
18 to 45 %,depending on the case series reported. (17-19)"
Subjects, ages 18-57, were recruited who believed they got headaches
from aspartame, but were otherwise mentally and physically healthy.
They were paid $ 15 total, and were at home. Of the 44 subjects, 32
contributed data to the 38-day trials: a week of inert placebo, a week
of either aspartame or placebo, followed by a week of the opposite, and
then this two-week cycle repeated. The daily dose was about 30 mg/kg.
"The proportion of days subjects reported having a headache was
higher during aspartame treatment compared with placebo treatment
(aspartame = 0.33, placebo = 0.24; p = 0.04) (table 5)".
Of the 12 subjects not included in the data, 7 reported adverse
symptoms before withdrawing.
Again, statistical significance with a moderate number of healthy
subjects, willing to be recruited by a newspaper ad, who believed
aspartame hurt them. The number of headaches for each subject
for each treatment week are given: it appears that 4 subjects
had the strongest increase in headaches from the run-in week
or placebo week to their first week on aspartame, jumping from 0 to 5,
1 to 6, 1 to 4, 0 to 5 headaches per week. So, about 4 of the 44
healthy people recruited for the study, who believed aspartame hurt
them, had a stong increase in headaches from the first week of daily
asparame exposure, while 7 reported adverse symptoms before leaving,
a total of 11 out of 44, an incidence ratio of 1/4.
This is sky high, if we consider that, if the incidence ratio for the
about two hundred million users in the USA is 1 of 100, that is 2
million cases. It is plausible that the incidence ratio lies between 1
and 10 out of 100 for continuous daily exposure. These three flames
should have set off alarm bells, with extensive follow-up studies and
much more careful study of thousands of case histories. But these
little flares were adroitly smothered by thick blankets of industry
Simmons: Gold: Schiffman: Spiers:
aspartame toxicity: Murray 2001.06.04 rmforall two double-blind studies
Mark Gold exhaustively critiques European Commission Scientific
Committee on Food re aspartame ( 2002.12.04 ): 59 pages, 230 references
"Gaull (1985) is a Letter to the Editor by a NutraSweet Company physician in
response to a Letter to the Editor summarizing several case reports of
aspartame-induced seizures (Wurtman 1985)."
Lancet. 1985 Dec 21-28; 2(8469-70): 1431.
Aspartame and seizures.
Publication Types: Letter PMID: 2867426
Lancet. 1985 Nov 9; 2(8463): 1060.
Aspartame: possible effect on seizure susceptibility.
Publication Types: Case Reports Letter PMID: 2865529
From: Rich Murray [rmforall@...]
Sent: Monday, August 05, 2002 2:11 AM
Subject: RTM: FDA (Section C) Wurtman: aspartame & seizures 11.9.85
RTM: FDA (Section C) Wurtman: aspartame & seizures 1985.11.09 1999.10.30
Richard J. Wurtman letter to the editor of The Lancet, November 9, 1985.
Richard J. Wurtman, Ph.D. dick@... 617-253-3091
Professor of Neuroscience
Prof. of Health Sciences and Technology
Director of the Clinical Research Center
Massachusetts Institute of Technlogy
Cambridge, Mass. 02139
ASPARTAME: POSSIBLE EFFECT ON SEIZURE SUSCEPTIBILITY
Aspartame, a sweetener in many diet beverages, contains
phenylalanine but, unlike dietary proteins, lacks other neutral
amino acids that compete with phenylalanine for uptake into the brain.
(1-3) Hence, its consumption causes unique modifications in the
plasma amino acid pattern (3) which, in man, might be expected to
increase brain phenylalanine levels (especially when carbohydrates
are eaten concurrently) (2,3) and thereby affect catecholamine or
serotonin synthesis. (4,5) Since diminished brain monoamine levels
have been related to depressed seizure thresholds in animal
preparations, (6) very high aspartame doses might also affect the
likelihood of seizures in symptomless but susceptible people. Brief
descriptions follow of three previously healthy adults who had grand
mal seizures during periods when they were consuming such doses.
A 42-year-old secretary who drank four quarts
(3-3/4 litres), of "Diet Coke" and almost the same amount of
"LiteLine" lemonade daily became "moody" with weekly episodes of
headache and nausea, visual hallucinations, feelings of deja-vu, and,
ultimately, a grand mal seizure. There was "no evidence for an
underlying structural abnormality to account for her temporal lobe
epilepsy." During her 9 days in hospital she took no diet drinks and,
for the first time in months, had no headaches; they recurred when she
resumed the diet drinks at home and disappeared when she again
discontinued the diet drinks.
A 27-year-old programmer with no neurological history had
nocturnal episodes of twitching movements and abnormal breathing, and,
ultimately, a severe headache followed by a grand mal seizure.
Phenytoin suppressed further seizures, but the other symptoms persisted
until he discontinued his daily intake of four or five glasses of
"Crystal Light"; its subsequent resumption was followed by the return
of nocturnal "twitching, trembling, jerking, and hyperventilating."
All laboratory tests were normal except the electroencephalogram,
which showed a grade one arrhythmia.
A 36-year-old professor who drank 900 ml or more of
aspartame-sweetened iced tea daily had a grand mal seizure in bed.
Angiography demonstrated a left posterior frontal venous angioma,
adjudged an "incidental finding."
Such case-reports can only suggest an association between
aspartame and seizures, since the size and the seizure incidence
(without aspartame) of the population at risk (young adults who
sometimes consume large amounts of aspartame) are unknown. However,
the reports are compatible with evidence (3,5) that high aspartame
doses may produce neurochemical changes that, in laboratory animals,
are associated with depressed seizure thresholds. (6) It thus seems
prudent for physicians to inquire about aspartame consumption and
other aspects of dietary history in evaluating patients with
unexplained seizures. Interpreting their responses will require that
the labels on food products indicate not only the presence of the
sweetener but also the actual amounts that the foods or beverages
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
Richard J. Wurtman
1. Pardridge WM Regulation of amino acid availability to the brain.
In: Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ, eds. Nutrition and the brain: vol 1. New
York: Raven Press, 1977: 141-204.
2. Wurtman RJ Neurochemical changes following high-dose aspartame
with dietary carbohydrates. New Engl J Med 1983; 309: 429-30.
3. Yokogoshi H, Roberts C, Caballero B, Wurtman RJ Effects of
aspartame and glucose administration on brain and plasma levels of
large neutral amino acids and brain 5-hydroxyindoles. Am J Clin Nutr
1978; 40: 1-7.
4. Fernstrom JD, Faller DT Neutral amino acids in the brain: changes
in response to food ingestion. Am J Neurochem 1978; 30: 1531-38.
5. Pardridge WM Potential effects of the dipeptide sweetener
aspartame on the brain. In: Wurtman RJ, Wurtman JJ, eds. Nutrition
and the brain: vol VII. New York: Raven Press (in press).
6. Jobe PC, Ko KH, Dailey JW Abnormalities in norepinephrine
turnover rate in the central nervous system of the genetically
epilepsy-prone rat. Brain Res 1984; 290: 357-60.
8 more Rapid Responses to Aspartame and its effects on health, BMJ:
Murray 2004.10.18 rmforall
5 critical Rapid Responses to Aspartame and its effects on health, Michael E
J Lean and Catherine R Hankey, BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756: Murray 2004.10.05
Aspartame and its effects on health, Michael E.J. Lean, Catherine R. Hankey,
Glasgow UK, British Medical Journal: 11% methanol component of aspartame,
and same level of methanol in dark wines and liquors, turns to formaldehyde
and formic acid, the main cause of chronic hangover symptoms: Murray
genotoxins, Comet assay in mice: Ace-K, stevia fine; aspartame poor;
sucralose, cyclamate, saccharin bad: Sasaki YF, Aug, Dec 2002:
Rencuzogullari E et al, Aug 2004: Murray 2003.01.27, 2004.10.17 rmforall
UN FAO & WHO approve Steviol glycosides as sweetener June 2004,
imports to UK no longer blocked: Martini: Murray 2004.10.17 rmforall
review of sweeteners 2004, Weihrauch MR, Diehl V: formaldehyde from 11%
methanol component of aspartame, methanol in dark wines and liquors,
fermentation of fruits in colon, also smoke, new buildings, furniture,
drapes, carpets, personal products: available database from Harvard Nurses'
Health Study II of 91,249 women in 1991-1999: Murray 2004.09.18 rmforall
faults in 1999 July EPA 468-page formaldehyde profile:
Elzbieta Skrzydlewska PhD, Assc. Prof., Medical U. of Bialystok, Poland,
abstracts -- ethanol, methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, acetaldehyde,
lipid peroxidation, green tea, aging, Lyme disease:
Murray 2004.08.08 rmforall skrzydle@...
Toxicological Profile for Formaldehyde 1/4 plain text, start to 111 of 468
pages USA DHHS PHS ATSDR 1999 July: Murray 2004.08.30 rmforall
safety of aspartame Part 1/2 12.4.2: EC HCPD-G SCF:
Murray 2003.01.12 rmforall EU Scientific Committee on Food, a whitewash
Mark Gold exhaustively critiques European Commission Scientific
Committee on Food re aspartame ( 2002.12.04 ): 59 pages, 230 references
Rich Murray, MA Room For All rmforall@...
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 USA 505-501-2298
137 members, 1,125 posts in a public searchable archive also Co-Moderator
Aspartame Victims Support Group Edward Bryant Holman, Chief Moderator
851 members, 17,531 posts in a public, searchable archive
Aspartame Toxicity Information Center Mark D. Gold also Co-Moderator
12 East Side Drive #2-18 Concord, NH 03301 603-225-2110
"Scientific Abuse in Aspartame Research"