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consider co-factors (methanol, formaldehyde, and protective folic acid), re UK FSA test of aspartame in candy bars on 50 reactors, Stephen L Atkin, Hull York Medical School: Rich Murray 2009.09.29

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  • Rich Murray
    consider co-factors (methanol, formaldehyde, and protective folic acid), re UK FSA test of aspartame in candy bars on 50 reactors, Stephen L Atkin, Hull York
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29 7:59 PM
      consider co-factors (methanol, formaldehyde, and protective folic acid), re
      UK FSA test of aspartame in candy bars on 50 reactors, Stephen L Atkin, Hull
      York Medical School: Rich Murray 2009.09.29
      Tuesday, September 29, 2009

      Included herein is substantial mainstream evidence that the natural
      conversion in humans of orally ingested methanol into formaldehyde
      and then formic acid results in substantial, durable, cumulative
      retention of toxic reaction products.

      Adequate folic acid levels expedite the safe metabolism of methanol
      in most people.

      Ethyl alcohol and folic acid in vegetables and fruits are sufficient to
      protect most people from conversion of their methanol into

      Many common agents interfere with folic acid (folic acid antagonists).

      Additionally, genetic variations are potent.

      About 3/4 of reactors are female.

      Those who rarely have alcohol hangovers may be substantially immune
      to methanol and formaldehyde.

      Recent exposure to alcohol beverages, tobacco and wood smoke,
      and a large variety of formaldehyde sources may compromise the
      clarity of aspartame reaction tests.

      Aspartame reactors often report allergies to many agents, with similar
      symptoms: mercury (amalgams and fish), MSG and free glutamate in
      foods (for instance, hydrolyzed vegetable or yeast protein), carbon
      monoxide, molds, many foods, etc. -- up to Multiple Chemical

      Aspartame reactors often take many steps to exercise, reduce stress,
      lower salt, emphasize organic plant foods, reduce drug and chemical
      exposures, limit protein and fat intake, use vitamin and mineral
      supplements, limit processed foods -- thus complicating attempts to
      create a matching control group, and introducing uncertainty about
      whether the reactors are as vulnerable now as in the past, when they
      may have had more negative factors for years.

      So, genetic background, age, sex, obesity, existing illnesses, diet,
      exercise, environmental toxins, medicines and drugs, parental
      exposure to all these factors, and more may corrode the "gold
      standard" of a single exposure double-blind experimental test,
      especially for a rather modest test group of 50.

      Perhaps, a more productive research strategy would be to test 10
      reactors, one at a time, for 24 hours each, using a wide range of
      tests, recording the enormous individual variations that are usually
      swamped by taking group data averages.

      Computerized tests facilitate fast, affordable measures of cognitive
      and memory effects.

      Full audio and video recording is now available.

      Dimethyl dicarbonate, an approved additive for reducing fungi in
      wines, perhaps with a neutral taste, quickly releases about the same
      level of methanol upon ingestion as aspartame drinks, making
      possible studies free of any possible "excitotoxic" effects of
      aspartic acid and phenylalanine, while allowing a third beverage
      to be a control substance.

      This approach would also contribute to the meager research literature
      about the role of methanol in alcohol hangovers.

      aspartame reactors may send detailed feedback to Andrew Wadge,
      UK Food Standards Agency to guide new pilot study re bad
      reactions: Rich Murray 2009.06.22
      Monday, June 22, 2009

      unexamined cofactors re folic acid antagonist research include
      methanol (quickly turns into formaldehyde and then formic acid in
      humans) from tobacco and wood smoke, alcohol beverages,
      aspartame, demethylation of caffeine: Rich Murray
      Monday, December 1, 2008


      [ rearranged, 11% methanol added ]
      From the Nutrasweet Web Site: (amounts in various "foods")

      Product Category -- Serving Size -- aspartame -- 11% methanol

      Gelatin Dessert ----------- 8 ounces -----190 mg ---- 21 mg
      Carbonated Beverage --- 12 ounces ----- 180 ------- 20
      " ------------------------ 48 ounces ----- 720 ------- 79
      Powdered Drink -------- 12 ounces ----- 180 -------- 20
      Fruit Drink (10% juice) -- 12 ounces ----- 140 -------15.4
      Hot Chocolate ----------- 12 ounces ----- 100 -------11
      Yogurt ------------------- 8 ounces ----- 124 --------13.6
      Ice Cream ---------------- 8 ounces ----- 100 ------- 11
      Pudding Dessert ---------- 8 ounces ------ 50 --------- 5.5
      Frozen Novelty ----------- 2-3 ounces ---- 50 --------- 5.5
      Gum ----------------------- 1 stick -------- 6-8 -------- 0.7-0.9
      Vitamins ------------------ 1 vitamin ------ 4 ---------- 0.44
      Breath mint ---------------- 1 mint --------- 1.5 -------- 0.17

      aspartame in Merck Maxalt-MLT worsens migraine,
      AstraZeneca Zomig, Eli Lilly Zyprexa,
      J&J Merck Pepcid AC (Famotidine 10mg) Chewable Tab,
      Pfizer Cool Mint Listerine Pocketpaks: Murray 2002.07.16

      Migraine MLT-Down: an unusual presentation of migraine
      in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches.
      Newman LC, Lipton RB Headache 2001 Oct; 41(9): 899-901.
      [ Merck 10-mg Maxalt-MLT, for migraine, has 3.75 mg aspartame,
      while 12 oz diet soda has 200 mg. ]
      Headache Institute, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center,
      New York, NY
      Department of Neurology newmanache@...
      Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
      Innovative Medical Research RLipton@...

      Blumenthall & Vance: aspartame chewing gum headaches
      Nov 1997: Murray 2002.07.28

      Harvey J. Blumenthal, MD, Dwight A Vance, RPh
      Chewing Gum Headaches. Headache 1997 Nov; 37(10): 665-6.
      Department of Neurology, University of Oklahoma College of
      Medicine, Tulsa, USA. neurotulsa@...
      Aspartame, a popular dietetic sweetener, may provoke headache in
      some susceptible individuals. Herein, we describe three cases of
      young women with migraine who reported their headaches could be
      provoked by chewing gum sweetened with aspartame.
      [ 6-8 mg aspartame per stick chewing gum ]

      antiseptic? antifungal? antiviral? methanol (formaldehyde, formic
      acid) disposition: Bouchard M et al, full plain text, 2001: substantial
      sources are degradation of fruit pectins, liquors, aspartame, smoke:
      Murray 2005.01.05 rmforall

      free full text

      A Biologically Based Dynamic Model for Predicting the Disposition
      of Methanol and Its Metabolites in Animals and Humans.
      Michèle Bouchard,
      Robert C. Brunet,
      Pierre-Olivier Droz,
      and Gaétan Carrier.
      Toxicological Sciences 64, 169-184 (2001)
      Copyright © 2001 by the Society of Toxicology
      [ extracts ]

      "Exposure to methanol also results from the consumption of certain
      foodstuffs (fruits, fruit juices, certain vegetables, aspartame
      sweetener, roasted coffee, honey) and alcoholic beverages (Health
      Effects Institute, 1987; Jacobsen et al., 1988).
      [ It's unusual for a mainstream journal article to mention "fruits, fruit
      juices, certain vegetables, aspartame sweetener" and "alcoholic
      beverages" to be methanol sources.]
      ... little is known about the chronic effects of low exposure doses...
      Systemic methanol is extensively metabolized by liver alcohol
      dehydrogenase [ ADH ] and catalase-peroxidase enzymes to
      formaldehyde, which is in turn rapidly oxidized to formic acid by
      formaldehyde dehydrogenase enzymes...
      Formaldehyde, as it is highly reactive, forms relatively stable adducts
      with cellular constituents...
      Primates and humans appear to be more susceptible to the acute
      toxicity of methanol than rodents...
      Although methanol has been reported to be metabolized mainly in
      the liver, pulmonary metabolism is also likely to occur. Indeed,
      the catalase-peroxidase system responsible for a major fraction of
      methanol metabolism in rats is widely distributed in mammalian
      The model included a constant background whole body methanol
      burden of 2.133 mmol, which corresponds to the mean blood
      concentration of 0.5 mg/L of methanol measured by Osterloh et al.
      (1996) in control subjects at the end of an 8-h frequent blood
      sampling period...
      ... once formed, a substantial fraction of formaldehyde is converted
      to unobserved forms. This pathway contributes to a long-term
      unobserved compartment. The latter, most plausibly, represents
      either the formaldehyde that ( directly or after oxidation to formate )
      binds to various endogenous molecules (Heck et al., 1983; Roe,
      That substantial amounts of methanol metabolites or by-products
      are retained for a long time is verified by Horton et al. (1992)
      who estimated that 18 h following an iv injection of 100 mg/kg
      of 14C-methanol in male Fischer-344 rats, only 57% of the
      dose was eliminated from the body. From the data of Dorman
      et al. (1994) and Medinsky et al. (1997), it can further be
      calculated that 48 h following the start of a 2-h inhalation
      exposure to 900 ppm of 14C-methanol vapors in female
      cynomolgus monkeys, only 23% of the absorbed 14C-methanol
      was eliminated from the body. These findings are corroborated by
      the data of Heck et al. (1983) showing that 40% of a
      14C-formaldehyde inhalation dose remained in the body 70 h
      Experimental studies on the detailed time profiles following
      controlled repeated exposures to methanol are lacking...
      Thus, in monkeys and plausibly humans, a much larger fraction of
      body formaldehyde is rapidly converted to unobserved forms
      rather than passed on to formate and eventually CO2."

      If we assume 30% retention of durable cumulative toxic products of
      formaldehyde and formic acid, then a 12-oz can diet drink gives 200
      mg aspartame, 22 mg methanol, and 7 mg formaldehyde and formic
      acid at 30% cumulative retention. We may add that well known
      sources of formaldehyde include both wood and tobacco smoke,
      and, notoriously, mobile homes. Two teams give evidence that
      formaldehyde and formic acid from methanol in ethanol drinks
      (often far above the 100 mg/L methanol in red wines, two times the
      level in aspartame drinks) are the main cause of the many symptoms
      of "morning after" hangovers.

      folic acid prevents neurotoxicity from formic acid, made by body
      from methanol impurity in alcohol drinks [ also 11 % of aspartame ],
      BM Kapur, PL Carlen, DC Lehotay, AC Vandenbroucke,
      Y Adamchik, U. of Toronto, 2007 Dec., Alcoholism Cl. Exp. Res.:
      Murray 2007.11.27

      Furthermore, BM Kapur et al, 2007 give evidence that formic acid
      from methanol in ethanol drinks is a major cause of Fetal Alcohol
      Syndrome, readily preventable by adequate levels of folic acid,
      which expedites the safe metabolism of formaldehyde, in most
      "Methanol is endogenously formed in the brain and is present as a
      congener in most alcoholic beverages.
      Because ethanol is preferentially metabolized over methanol
      (MeOH) by alcohol dehydrogenase, it is not surprising that
      MeOH accumulates in the alcohol-abusing population.
      This suggests that the alcohol-drinking population will have higher
      levels of MeOH's neurotoxic metabolite, formic acid (FA).
      FA elimination is mediated by folic acid.
      Neurotoxicity is a common result of chronic alcoholism.
      This study shows for the first time that FA, found in chronic
      alcoholics, is neurotoxic and this toxicity can be .mitigated by
      folic acid administration." ...
      "MeOH concentrations between 4 and 4500 mg/l can be present
      in various alcoholic beverages (Sprung et al., 1988)."

      A variety of mutations, as well as aspirin and many painkillers,
      impede folic acid. However, fruits and vegetables give enough folic
      acid to mitigate harm from their methanol. Then again, formaldehyde
      may in many people treat infections by fungi, bacteria, and virusus.
      All these unexamined co-factors have confused attempts to study
      aspartame toxicity for three decades.

      details on 6 epidemiological studies since 2004 on diet soda
      (mainly aspartame) correlations, as well as 14 other mainstream
      studies on aspartame toxicity since summer 2005:
      Murray 2007.11.27

      A widely proclaimed NIH-AARP mass survey by U Lim et al. 2006,
      while failing to show specific cancers with feeble diet drink
      consumption data for a year for seniors, did find that 4% of a
      half-million seniors drank 3 and more cans daily diet soda
      [ 12-oz can gives 200 mg aspartame, 22 mg methanol,
      7 mg formaldehyde and formic acid at 30% cumulative retention ]

      aspartame mg/d
      0 ---- under 100 - 100-200 - 200-400 - 400-600 - 600-1200 -
      cohort %
      46 ------- 25 ------ 13 ------- 7 --------- 5 ------ about 3 ----

      over 1200 mg/d
      under 1%

      This is the first good data about the percentage of aspartame users
      who use over 3 cans daily, averaging 5 cans daily at 200 mg per 12
      oz can diet soda.
      About 4% of 473,984 is 19,000 people, with a peak intake of 17
      cans daily, and average 5 cans daily.
      It would be worthwhile to investigate a wide variety of symptoms for
      the 0.1 % of highest level users, about 500 people.
      For about 200 million USA aspartame users, this would be 200,000

      The highest level 3400 mg aspartame [ 17 12-oz cans ] gives
      11% = 374 mg methanol, 48 times the recommended daily limit of
      consumption of 7.8 mg as recommended by the
      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).3

      At 30% retention of cumulative toxic products of formaldehyde and
      formic acid, these would be 125 mg, 60 times higher than the 1999
      EPA alarm level for formaldehyde in daily drinking water of
      1 ppm = 2 mg for average daily drinking water of 2 L daily.

      Since no adequate data has ever been published on the
      exact disposition of toxic metabolites in specific tissues in humans
      of the 11 % methanol component of aspartame,
      the many studies on morning-after hangover from the methanol
      impurity in alcohol drinks are the main available resource to date.

      highly toxic formaldehyde, the cause of alcohol hangovers, is
      made by the body from 100 mg doses of methanol from
      dark wines and liquors, dimethyl dicarbonate, and aspartame:
      Murray 2007.08.31

      DMDC: Dimethyl dicarbonate 200mg/L in drinks
      adds methanol 98 mg/L ( becomes formaldehyde in body ):
      EU Scientific Committee on Foods 2001.07.12:
      Murray 2004.01.22


      "...DMDC was evaluated by the SCF in 1990
      and considered acceptable for
      the cold sterilization of soft drinks and fruit juices at levels of
      addition up to 250 mg/L (1)
      ...DMDC decomposes primarily to CO2 and methanol ...

      [ Note: Sterilization of bacteria and fungi is a toxic process,
      probably due to the inevitable conversion in the body of methanol
      into highly toxic formaldehyde and then formic acid. ]

      The use of 200 mg DMDC per liter would add 98 mg/L of
      methanol to wine which already contains an average of about
      40 mg/L from natural sources.

      methanol products (formaldehyde and formic acid) are main
      cause of alcohol hangover symptoms [same as from similar
      amounts of methanol, the 11% part of aspartame]:
      YS Woo et al, 2005 Dec: Murray 2006.01.20

      Addict Biol. 2005 Dec;10(4): 351-5.
      Concentration changes of methanol in blood samples during
      an experimentally induced alcohol hangover state.
      Woo YS, Yoon SJ, Lee HK, Lee CU, Chae JH, Lee CT,
      Kim DJ.
      Chuncheon National Hospital, Department of Psychiatry,
      The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
      http://www.cuk.ac.kr/eng/ sysop@...
      Songsin Campus: 02-740-9714
      Songsim Campus: 02-2164-4116
      Songeui Campus: 02-2164-4114
      http://www.cuk.ac.kr/eng/sub055.htm eight hospitals

      [ Han-Kyu Lee ]

      A hangover is characterized by the unpleasant physical and
      mental symptoms that occur between 8 and 16 hours after
      drinking alcohol.

      After inducing experimental hangover in normal individuals,
      we measured the methanol concentration prior to
      and after alcohol consumption
      and we assessed the association between the hangover
      condition and the blood methanol level.

      A total of 18 normal adult males participated in this study.

      They did not have any previous histories of psychiatric
      or medical disorders.

      The blood ethanol concentration prior to the alcohol intake
      (2.26+/-2.08) was not significantly different from that
      13 hours after the alcohol consumption (3.12+/-2.38).

      However, the difference of methanol concentration
      between the day of experiment (prior to the alcohol intake)
      and the next day (13 hours after the alcohol intake)
      was significant (2.62+/-1.33/l vs. 3.88+/-2.10/l, respectively).

      A significant positive correlation was observed
      between the changes of blood methanol concentration
      and hangover subjective scale score increment when covarying
      for the changes of blood ethanol level (r=0.498, p<0.05).

      This result suggests the possible correlation of methanol
      as well as its toxic metabolite to hangover. PMID: 16318957

      [ The toxic metabolite of methanol is formaldehyde, which in turn
      partially becomes formic acid -- both potent cumulative toxins
      that are the actual cause of the toxicity of methanol.]

      This study by Jones AW (1987) found next-morning hangover
      from red wine with 100 to 150 mg methanol
      (9.5 % w/v ethanol, 100 mg/l methanol, 0.01 %).
      Fully 11% of aspartame is methanol --
      1,120 mg aspartame in 2 L diet soda,
      almost six 12-oz cans, gives 123 mg methanol (wood alcohol).

      Pharmacol Toxicol. 1987 Mar; 60(3): 217-20.
      Elimination half-life of methanol during hangover.
      Jones AW. wayne.jones@...;
      Department of Forensic Toxicology,
      University Hospital, SE-581 85 Linkoping, Sweden.

      This paper reports the elimination half-life of methanol in human
      Experiments were made during the morning after the subjects had
      consumed 1000-1500 ml red wine
      (9.5 % w/v ethanol, 100 mg/l methanol)
      the previous evening. [ 100 to 150 mg methanol ]
      The washout of methanol from the body
      coincided with the onset of hangover.
      The concentrations of ethanol and methanol in blood were
      determined indirectly by analysis of end-expired alveolar air.
      In the morning when blood-ethanol dropped
      below the Km of liver alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH)
      of about 100 mg/l (2.2 mM),
      the disappearance half-life of ethanol was 21, 22, 18 and 15 min.
      in 4 test subjects respectively.
      The corresponding elimination half-lives of methanol
      were 213, 110, 133 and 142 min. in these same individuals.
      The experimental design outlined in this paper can be used
      to obtain useful data on elimination kinetics of methanol
      in human volunteers without undue ethical limitations.
      Circumstantial evidence is presented to link methanol
      or its toxic metabolic products, formaldehyde and formic acid,
      with the pathogenesis of hangover. PMID: 3588516

      four Murray AspartameNM reviews in SE Jacob & SA
      Stechschulte debate with EG Abegaz & RG Bursey of
      Ajinomoto re migraines from formaldehyde from aspartame,
      Dermatitis 2009 May: TE Hugli -- folic acid with V-C
      protects: Rich Murray 2009.08.12
      Wednesday, August 12, 2009
      [ extracts ]

      Formaldehyde, aspartame, migraines: a possible connection.
      Abegaz EG, Bursey RG.
      Dermatitis. 2009 May-Jun;20(3):176-7; author reply 177-9.
      No abstract available. PMID: 19470307

      Eyassu G. Abegaz *
      Robert G. Bursey
      Ajinomoto Corporate Services LLC, Scientific & Regulatory
      Affairs, 1120 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 1010,
      Washington, DC 20036
      * Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 202 457 0284;
      fax: +1 202 457 0107.
      abegazee@... (E.G. Abegaz),
      burseyb@... (R.G. Bursey)

      "For example, fruit juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages produce
      significantly greater quantities of formaldehyde than aspartame-
      containing products. [6]"

      "[6] Magnuson BA, Burdock GA, Doull J, et al. Aspartame: a
      safety evaluation based on current use levels, regulations, and
      toxicological and epidemiological studies.
      Crit Rev Toxicol 2007;37:629-727"

      [ two detailed critiques of industry affiliations and biased science in
      99 page review with 415 references by BA Magnuson, GA Burdock
      and 8 more, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2007 Sept.: Mark D
      Gold 13 page: also Rich Murray 2007.09.15: 2008.03.24
      Monday, March 24, 2008

      "Nearly every section of the Magnuson (2007) review has
      research that is misrepresented
      and/or crucial pieces of information are left out.

      In addition to the misrepresentation of the research,
      readers (including medical professionals) are often not told that
      this review was funded by the aspartame manufacturer, Ajinomoto,
      and the reviewers had enormous conflicts of interest." ]


      Dermatitis. 2008; 19(3): E10-E11.
      © 2008 American Contact Dermatitis Society
      Formaldehyde, Aspartame, and Migraines: A Possible Connection
      Sharon E. Jacob; Sarah Stechschulte
      Published: 09/17/2008
      [ Extract ]


      Aspartame is a widely used artificial sweetener that has been linked
      to pediatric and adolescent migraines.
      Upon ingestion, aspartame is broken, converted, and oxidized into
      formaldehyde in various tissues.
      We present the first case series of aspartame-associated migraines
      related to clinically relevant positive reactions to formaldehyde
      on patch testing.

      Case Series

      Six patients (ages 16 to 75 years) were referred for evaluation of
      recalcitrant dermatitis. By history, five of the patients were noted to
      have developed migraines following aspartame consumption; the
      sixth reported dermatitis flares associated with diet cola
      consumption of >2 liters/day.

      All six patients had current environmental exposures to formaldehyde
      or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in their personal hygiene
      products and/or regular consumption of "sugar-free food" artificially
      sweetened with aspartame.

      Based on their histories and clinical presentations, these patients
      were patch-tested with the North American Contact Dermatitis
      Group 65-allergen Standard Screening Series and selected
      chemicals from the University of Miami vehicle, fragrance, bakery,
      and textile trays.

      All six patients had positive reactions to formaldehyde, and four had
      additional positive reactions to formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
      (FRPs). Expert counseling on allergen avoidance (including
      avoidance of formaldehyde, FRPs, and aspartame) and alternative
      product recommendations were provided to the patients.

      At their follow-up appointments (between 8 and 12 weeks), all the
      patients showed clearance of their dermatitis. Four patients (two
      inadvertently) resumed their consumption of aspartame and
      subsequently returned for an additional follow-up visit. Three of the
      first five patients had recurrences of both their migraines and their
      dermatitis; the sixth patient (who had no migraines) had a positive
      rechallenge dermatitis. These four patients were again counseled on
      avoidance regimen.

      formaldehyde, aspartame, and migraines, the first case series,
      Sharon E Jacob-Soo, Sarah A Stechschulte, UCSD, Dermatitis
      2008 May: Rich Murray 2008.07.18
      Friday, July 18, 2008

      formaldehyde from many sources, including aspartame, is major
      cause of Allergic Contact Dermatitis, SE Jacob, T Steele, G
      Rodriguez, Skin and Aging 2005 Dec.: Murray 2008.03.27
      Thursday, March 27, 2008

      "For example, diet soda and yogurt containing aspartame
      (Nutrasweet), release formaldehyde in their natural biological

      One of aspartame's metabolites, aspartic acid methyl ester, is
      converted to methanol in the body, which is oxidized to
      formaldehyde in all organs, including the liver and eyes. 22

      Patients with a contact dermatitis to formaldehyde have been seen
      to improve once aspartame is avoided. 22

      Notably, the case that Hill and Belsito reported had a 6-month
      history of eyelid dermatitis that subsided after 1 week of avoiding
      diet soda. 22"

      Avoiding formaldehyde allergic reactions in children, aspartame,
      vitamins, shampoo, conditioners, hair gel, baby wipes, Sharon E
      Jacob, MD, Tace Steele, U. Miami, Pediatric Annals 2007 Jan.:
      eyelid contact dermatitis, AM Hill, DV Belsito, 2003 Nov.:
      Murray 2008.03.27
      Thursday, March 27, 2008

      Sharon E. Jacob, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine
      University of California, San Diego 200 W. Arbor Drive #8420,
      San Diego, CA 92103-8420 Tel: 858-552-8585 ×3504
      Fax: 305-675-8317 sjacob@...;
      Sarah A. Stechschulte, BA sstechschulte@...


      Sweetener aspartame to be investigated for possible side-effects

      The Food Standards Agency is calling for volunteers to help test
      claims that the artificial sweetener aspartame, used in more than
      4,000 products, causes illnesses

      Ian Sample, science correspondent
      guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 September 2009 00.05 BST

      Food and drinks containing aspartame
      Just some of the thousands of products containing the artificial
      sweetener aspartame. Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

      The Food Standards Agency is launching an investigation into the
      artificial sweetener aspartame amid claims that some people
      experience side-effects after consuming the substance.

      Scientists funded by the agency will test whether certain people
      develop a range of illnesses after eating food prepared with the

      Aspartame is around 200 times sweeter than sugar and is used in
      more than 4,000 products, including diet drinks, cereal bars,
      yogurt and chewing gum.

      Previous reviews by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the
      European Food Safety Authority
      [ http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_home.htm ]
      have concluded that aspartame is safe, but some people complain
      they develop headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue
      after eating food containing the chemical.

      Researchers led by Professor Stephen Atkin, head of endocrinology,
      diabetes and metabolism at the Hull York Medical School,
      will look for signs of illness in volunteers after
      they consume cereal bars made with or without aspartame.

      Atkin's group is recruiting 50 people who believe they are sensitive
      to aspartame. The volunteers will be matched by age and sex to 50
      volunteers who are happy to eat the sweetener.

      In the study, individuals will be randomly assigned an aspartame or
      aspartame-free cereal bar and given psychological and medical
      checks up to four hours after consuming it.
      The following week, the experiment will be repeated with each
      volunteer receiving the other type of cereal bar.
      The scientists will take blood and urine samples before and after
      each test.

      Aspartame breaks down in the digestive system into aspartic acid,
      methanol and phenylalanine
      Some individuals believe it is these chemicals that cause their
      The tests will allow scientists to link any ill effects to levels of the
      chemicals in the volunteers' blood and urine.

      "This is a fundamental study for the people who believe they are
      sensitive to aspartame, because it will hopefully prove or disprove
      whether or not aspartame can cause problems," Prof Atkin said.

      The study is expected to be completed next year and will be
      published as a report to the FSA.

      A spokesman for the agency said: "We know that aspartame can
      be consumed safely but some people consider that they react badly
      to it.
      We've commissioned this research because it's important to increase
      our knowledge about what is happening.
      The study will address consumer concerns, including these
      anecdotal reports."

      Food safety officials are expected to fund a larger investigation if the
      study finds evidence that people can be sensitive to the sweetener.

      A spokeswoman for the Aspartame Information Service, an industry
      body, [ http://www.aspartame.info/ ] said:
      "Aspartame has been on the market for more than 25 years
      and studies have been done on it from every angle.
      We get more of these breakdown products from the
      rest of our diets than we get from aspartame.

      "The whole anecdotal area [of sensitivity] has been looked at before,
      so why start another round of research?
      Our concern is that people might be attributing to aspartame
      something that might have a more serious cause."

      Patience Purdy, honorary vice president of the
      National Council of Women of Great Britain,
      [ http://fp.ncwgb.f9.co.uk/
      The National Council of Women Of Great Britain
      36 Danbury Street, Islington, London N1 8JU
      Telephone: 071-354 2395 Fax No. 071-354 9214
      Registered Charity No. 1001015 ]
      which campaigns for aspartame to be banned on health grounds,
      said: "It's good the FSA are taking this seriously, but our concern is
      that the study is inadequate. We all react differently to aspartame."

      Contact the Science editor: science@...

      Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@...

      Call the main Guardian and Observer switchboard:
      +44 (0)20 3353 2000


      Friday, September 25, 2009
      Aspartame sensitivity probe is funded in the UK

      Scientists are to assess whether the artificial sweetener aspartame
      causes health problems in people unusually sensitive to it.

      Expert advice is that aspartame -- found in more than 4,000
      products -- is safe to consume.

      However, a number of people have reported sensitivity to the
      product including headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea
      and fatigue.

      The University of Hull study is funded by the
      Food Standards Agency (FSA).

      Aspartame, 150 times sweeter than sugar, is found in products
      such as diet soft drinks, cereal bars, yogurts and chewing gum.

      There have long been concerns that the sweetener is linked to a
      raft of health problems, including a greater risk of cancer,
      fertility issues, nausea, double vision and an effect on appetite.

      However, after reviewing the available scientific literature, both
      the FSA and the European Food Safety Authority decided there
      was no firm evidence of any impact on health, and ruled that
      aspartame was safe to consume.

      Professor Stephen Atkin, who will lead the new research, said:
      "This study is not to determine whether aspartame can be
      consumed safely; this has already been established, but rather
      to see whether certain people are sensitive to it."

      Read more of Aspartame sensitivity probe is funded in the UK
      at BBC News site.


      Published: 2009/09/25 16:33:14 GMT

      BBC NEWS

      Sensitivity to aspartame probed

      ...The Hull team hope their work will lead to a larger
      international study to pin down the issue once and for all.

      Body chemistry

      Professor Atkin also hopes to secure funding to analyse the
      chemical breakdown of aspartame in the body.

      The sweetener can be broken down to produce
      methanol and formaldehyde,
      both of which have been previously linked to cancer.

      However, it is not clear whether this process takes place in the
      body, or, if it does, whether the metabolites are absorbed into the
      blood in sufficient quantity to produce any biological effect.

      Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency said:
      "The study will address consumer concerns, including anecdotal
      reports that have linked a range of conditions to aspartame.

      'The Agency's view remains that aspartame can be consumed safely
      and we are not recommending any changes to its current use.

      "However, we know that some people consider that they react
      badly to consuming this sweetener so we think it is important
      to increase our knowledge about what is happening."

      One hundred people will take part in the Hull study,
      half of who have complained of side effects from aspartame.

      The study is expected to take 18 months.

      At present the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for aspartame is set
      by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food (SCF)
      at 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

      An adult would have to drink about 14 cans a day of diet soft drink,
      or consume about 80 sachets of sweetener to reach this amount.

      © BBC MMIX


      Study to investigate alleged side effects of aspartame
      23 September 2009

      ...The national study will be carried out by Professor Stephen Atkin
      at the University of Hull, in collaboration with colleagues at the
      Hull York Medical School and Hull
      and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

      He explains: "This study is not to determine whether aspartame can
      be consumed safely; this has already been established by the FSA
      and EFSA, but rather to see whether certain people are sensitive to it.
      "We will look at the effects of eating a snack bar which may
      or may not contain aspartame in people who say they have a problem
      eating aspartame and people who normally consume foods containing
      aspartame with no problems.
      The study is a double blind placebo crossover,
      which is the gold standard of studies."

      It is hoped that this study will help to design a larger international
      study, which will provide the information needed to inform
      governments and the European Union on whether the consumption
      of aspartame is related to symptoms.

      Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency
      said: 'The study will address consumer concerns, including
      anecdotal reports that have linked a range of conditions to

      'The Agency's view remains that aspartame can be consumed
      safely and we are not recommending any changes to its current use.
      However, we know that some people consider that they react
      badly to consuming this sweetener so we think it is important
      to increase our knowledge about what is happening.'

      The research is expected to take 18 months and the results will be
      published as a report to be delivered to the Food Standards Agency.
      A summary of this information will be available on the FSA website.


      Notes to Editors

      For press enquiries, or to request an interview with
      Prof Stephen Atkin, please contact Claire Mulley
      on 01482 466943 or 07809 585965. [ c.mulley@... ]

      Potential volunteers for the study should contact a member of the
      clinical trial team on 01482 675372 or 01482 675387
      from 9am to 5pm weekdays, or the
      Hull Royal Infirmary switchboard on 01482 328541 out of hours.

      This is a pilot study involving 100 volunteers; 50 of them have
      complained of side-effects from aspartame and they will be
      matched in gender and age by people who have no side effects.

      Prof Stephen Atkin will be available for interview on
      21 and 22 Sept; contact Claire Mulley to request an interview slot.

      Prof Stephen Atkin is the Head of Diabetes and Endocrinology
      at the University of Hull's Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI).

      He has a BSc Biochemistry and MD from Newcastle University.
      Prof Atkin completed a PhD at Liverpool University
      where he was also an MRC training fellow.

      He was appointed in October 2005 as Professor of
      Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
      at Hull York Medical School (HYMS).

      He is based and leads the pharmaceutical and nutritional
      clinical trials teams for these studies at the
      Clinical Research Centre based at the
      Michael White Diabetes Centre at Hull Royal Infirmary.
      The laboratory focusing on molecular and a cellular research is
      based within the medical research unit at the University of Hull.

      Translational clinical trials for both the food and pharmaceutical
      industry are a major focus of the work undertaken and part of
      the overall research portfolio on modulation of insulin resistance
      and cardiovascular risk in these conditions that are associated
      with a high morbidity and mortality.

      Read more about Hull York Medical School (HYMS).

      © The University of Hull,
      Cottingham Road, Hull. HU6 7RX, +44 (0)1482 346311

      Professor Stephen L. Atkin <stephen.atkin@...>
      Primary organisation:
      Michael White Diabetes Centre
      Head, Academic Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
      Additional affiliation:
      Teaching role(s) within HYMS:
      Clinical Placement Tutor
      Phase 2 Curriculum Group
      Plenary Lecturer - Phase 1
      Plenary Lecturer - Phase 2


      Insulin (blue) encapsulated within a pollen exine [ photo ]

      Endocrinology and Diabetes

      Stephen Atkin is HYMS Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
      His section of the PGMI at Hull incorporates bone metabolism,
      and has a specific interest in the cardiovascular risk factors associated
      with the metabolic syndrome that encompasses polycystic ovarian
      syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes.
      The group is collaborating with the University of Hull's
      Department of Chemistry to develop the use of pollen and spore
      coatings that can deliver orally ingested material into the blood stream.

      Read more about the Food Standards Agency.

      If you want to submit your material to TimesOnline,
      please email feedback@...


      Food Manufacture
      News & Features » Latest news
      Experts challenge pilot aspartame study
      By Rick Pendrous
      Published: 14 September, 2009

      The pilot study launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) into
      the health effects of individuals "self-reporting as sensitive" to
      aspartame has been criticised for being an unnecessary waste of
      precious research resources.

      A spokeswoman for aspartame supplier Ajinomoto argued that the
      safety of aspartame had been proven time and again in various
      robust studies over the years. Consequently, she said, there was no
      scientific justification for the FSA embarking on the latest pilot.
      Her comments followed a meeting last week of the FSA's
      General Advisory Committee on Science (GACS).

      She also argued that the number of people reporting adverse side
      effects following consumption of aspartame was so small that
      money would be better spent counselling these people individually.

      Some members of the GACS committee also expressed concerns
      about the study. Jeya Henry, professor of human nutrition at
      Oxford Brookes University, questioned the scientific approach of
      the pilot study, in particular the use of high numbers of volunteers
      with self-diagnosed sensitivity issues.

      "I really think the sensitivity issue may need to be rethought because
      the model that you are using is going to be loaded against you proving
      what you want to prove," said Henry. His concerns about using people
      who were "self-reporting" were echoed by Dr Ian Brown, chair of the
      Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs.

      However, professor sir Roger Jowell, chair of the FSA's Social
      Sciences Research Committee, added: "My worry was the description
      of the study -- to investigate anecdotal claims -- it is actually more than
      that and of course it is less than a randomised control trial. I think it is
      important to describe it as a limited controlled trial. But what you are
      doing is effectively putting your toe in the water, and as a first stage
      that is perfectly acceptable."

      Even if the study gave a green light to aspartame, this might make little
      difference to people who were convinced that it did adversely affect
      them, said GACS chairman, professor Colin Blakemore.

      However, he noted that: "The fact is that somatization
      [a psychological condition in which some people persistently complain
      of varied physical symptoms that have no identifiable physical origin]
      is a very real phenomenon."

      "Aspartame is a controversial issue," admitted FSA chief scientist
      Andrew Wadge. "And, indeed, the idea of doing a study like this is
      controversial. Whenever there is a scientific evaluation on safety,
      the answer comes back that this product is safe to consume . and
      yet we have the situation where a significant number of people who
      are convinced that they react to this particularly product."

      The FSA's latest pilot aims to recruit 50 individuals "self-diagnosed"
      as sensitive to aspartame and 50 age/sex matched controls, who are
      normal, healthy volunteers. Volunteers will be asked to consume a
      product which may or may not contain aspartame and any resulting
      health effects will be recorded.

      According to Wadge the study aims to investigate anecdotal claims
      made by individuals and test the suitability of a food product
      developed by the FSA for use in 'blinded' trials. "I personally think
      it is something that is interesting and worthwhile doing," said Wadge.

      The pilot study will inform the design and feasibility of a larger-scale
      study that could be done at European level, he added.

      The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently provided a
      clean bill of health to aspartame. However, it is reported to be
      undertaking a further review of published reports and "some
      anecdotal reports" since the Scientific Committee on Foods issued
      an opinion on aspartame in 2002.

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      505-501-2298 rmforall@...



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