Aspartame Studies

 John McCrione, London
 

Aspartame Studies: Correlation of Funding and Outcome

Ralph G. Walton, M.D.
Chairman
The Center for Behavioral Medicine
Forum Health
Professor and Chairman
Department of Psychiatry
Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine

ABSTRACT

Studies of aspartame in the peer reviewed medical literature were surveyed for funding source and study outcome. Of the 166 studies felt to have relevance for questions of human safety, 74 had Nutrasweet® industry related funding and 92 were independently funded. One hundred percent of the industry funded research attested to aspartame's safety, whereas 92% of the independently funded research identified a problem. A bibliography supplied bythe Nutrasweet® Company included many studies of questionable validity and relevance, with multiple instances of the same study being cited up to 6 times. Questions are raised both about aspartame's safety and the broader issue of the appropriateness of industry sponsorship of medical research. 


INTRODUCTION

Serious questions have been raised about the reliability of industry sponsored studies of the safety of synthetic chemicals. Aspartame, in particular, has been the focus of significant ongoing controversy.

As early as 1970, eleven years prior to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) granting approval for the use of aspartame in dry foods, Olney raised the question of the chemical's potential neurotoxicity. and recently suggested a linkage to increasing brain tumor rates.6 Wurtman has demonstrated that aspartame can significantly increase brain phenylalanine and tyrosine levels, and can suppress the usual increase in tryptophan that follows a carbohydrate rich meal. These neurochemical changes have been linked to numerous adverse clinical events including seizuresmood disorders, headaches, and paradoxical effects on appetite. 

Despite these studies suggesting adverse reactions there is extensive literature attesting to aspartame's safety. Allegations have been made that many of the studies supporting the product's safety have been funded by the Nutrasweet® industry, with consequent questions of appropriateness. To date, however, there has been no study correlating outcome with funding source in aspartame related research. 


A search of the peer reviewed medical literature, utilizing multiple databases, including Medline, yielded 527 citations on aspartame. Of this number, 165 were felt to have relevance for questions of human safety. 

Seventy-four studies had aspartame related industry sponsorship (Searle, the Nutrasweet® Company, Ajinomoto, or the International Life Sciences Institute Nutrition Foundation) and 91 had non-industry related funding. Some of the studies have multiple funding sources. If an aspartame related industry was one of the sources, the study was considered industry-sponsored.


Non-Industry Sponsored Research on Aspartame Effects

Peer-Reviewed Studies
Showing Aspartame is Neurotoxic to Life Forms


1970 Olney, Brain Damage in Infant Mice Following Oral Intake of Glutamate, Aspartate or Cysteine. Nature 1970;227:609-610. Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1975 Olney JW, Aspartame as a Sweetener. New England Journal of Medicine 1975;292(23):1244-1245. Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1977 Mishiro Y and Keneko H, Effect of a Dipeptide, Aspartame, on Lactic Acid Production in Human Whole Saliva. J Dent Res. 1977;56(11):1427. . Funding Source: Nippon Dental University, Tokyo. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1979 Brunner RL, Vorhees CV, Kinney L, Butcher RE, et al., Aspartame: Assessment of Developmental Psychotoxicity of a New Artificial Sweetener. Neurobehavioral Toxicology 1979;1:79-86. Funding Source: USFDA Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1980 Olney, Brain Damage in Mice from Voluntary Ingestion of Glutamate and Aspartate. Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 1980;2:125-129. Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1982 Uribe, Potential Toxicity of a New Sugar Substitute in Patients with Liver Disease. New England Journal of Medicine 1982;173-174. Funding Source: National Institute of Nutrition, Northern Mexico. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1983 Wurtman, Effects of Aspartame and Glucose on Rat Brain Amino Acids and Serotin. New England Journal of Medicine 1983;309(7):429-430. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1983 Wurtman RJ, Neurological Changes Following High Dose Aspartame with Dietary Carbohydrates. New England Journal of Medicine 1983;309(7):429-430. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1984 Olney, Excitotoxic Food Additives ­ Relevance of Animal Studies to Human Safety. Neurobehavioral Toxicology and Teratology 1984;6:455-562. Funding Source: Research Scientist Award MH-38894. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1984 Monte, Aspartame: Methanol and the Public Health. J Appl Nutr 36(1):42-54. Funding Source: Arizona State University. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1984 Yokogoshi H,k Roberts CH, Canballero B, Wuetman RJ, Effects of Aspartame and Glucose Administration on Brain and Plasma Levels of Large Neutral Amino Acids and Brain 5-Hydroxyindoles. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1984;40:1-7. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1984 Mahalik MP and Gautieri RF, Reflex Responsiveness of CF-1 Mouse Neonates Following Maternal Aspartame Exposure. Research Communications in Psychology, Psychiatry & Behavior 1984;9(4):385-403. Funding Source: Unspecified. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1985 Novick, Aspartame Induced Granulomatous Panniculitis. Ann Int Med 102(2):206-207. Funding Source: Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Adverse reaction identified.
1985 Grobelny D and Galardy RE, A Metabolite of Aspartame Inhibits Angiotensin Converting Enzyme. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 1985; 128(2):960-964. . Funding Source: University of Kentucky Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1985 Wurtman, RJ, Aspartame: Possible Effects on Seizure Susceptibility. Lancet 1985; 2(8463):1060. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1985 Ferguson JM, Interaction of Aspartame and Carbohydrates in an Eating Disordered Patient. Am J Psych 1985 Feb;142(2):271. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Kulczycki A Jr., Aspartame ­ Induced Urticaria. Ann Intern Med 1986;104(2):207-208. Funding Source: N.I.H. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Pardridge WM, The Safety of Aspartame [Letter]. JAMA 1986;256(19):2678. Funding Source: UCLA School of Medicine Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Koehler SM, A New Dietary Caution for Migraine Sufferers. Dir in Appl Nut 1986;1:1-7. Funding Source: U. Florida Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Kiritsky PJ and Maher TJ, Acute Effects of Aspartame on Systolic Blood Pressure in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. J Neural Transmission 1986;66(2):121-128. 
Funding Source: National Institute of Neurological, Communicative Diseases and Stroke
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Yokogoshi H and Wurtman RJ, Acute Effects of Oral or Parenteral Aspartame on Catecholamine Metabolism in Various Regions of Rat Brain. J Nutr 1986;116:356-364.
Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Walton, Seizure and Mania After High Intake of Aspartame. Psychosomatics 27:218-220. Funding Source: Chautauqua County Dept of Mental Health 
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Drake ME, Panic Attacks and Excessive Aspartame Ingestion [Letter]. Lancet 1986;2(8507):631. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Johns DR, Migrane Provoked by Aspartame. New Eng J Medicine 1986;315(7):456. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Blundell JE, Hill AJ, Paradoxical Effects of an Intense Sweetener Aspartame on Appetite. Lancet 1986;1(8489):1092-3. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Caballero B, Mahon BE, Rohr FJ, Levy HL, Wurtman RJ, et. al., Plasma Amino Acid Levels after Single Dose Aspartame Consumption in Phenylketonuria Mild Hyperphenylalaninemia and Heterozygous State for Phenylketonuria. Journal of Pediatrics 1986;109(4):668-671. Funding Source: National Institute of Neurological, Communicate Diseases and Stroke 
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Bradstock MK, Serdula MK, Marks IS, et al., Evaluation of Reactions to Food Additives: The Aspartame Experience. AM J Clin Nutr 1986 Mar;43(3):464-9. Funding Source: U.S. Government Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1986 Coulombe RA Jr., Sharma RP, Neurobiochemical Alterations Induced by the Artificial Sweetener Aspartame. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1986;83(1):79-85. Funding Source: Utah State University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1987 Wurtman RJ, Aspartame Effects on Brain Serotonin. Am J Clin Nutr 1987 Apr;45(4):799-803. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1987 Maher TJ and Wurtman RJ, Possible Neurologic Effects of Aspartame, a Widely Used Food Additive. Environmental Health Perspectives 1987;75:53-57. Funding Source: M.I.T. and Federal Government Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1987 Drogari E, Smith I, Beasley M, Lloyd JK, Timing of Strict Diet in Relation to Fetal Damage in Maternal Phenylketonuria: An International Collaborative Study by the MRC/DHSS Phenylketonuria Register. Lancet 1987;2(8565):927-30. Funding Source: Institute of Child Health Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1987 Elsas, et al., Changes in Physiological Concentrations of Blood Phenylalanine Produce Changes in Human Brain Function. Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function Birkhauser Boston 1988;187-195. Funding Source: Emory University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Roberts: Neurological, Psychiatric and Behavioral Reactions to Aspartame in 505 Aspartame Reactors. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 373-376. . Funding Source: Palm Beach Institute of Medical Research Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Pinto and Maher, Aspartame, Phenylalanine and Seizures in Experimental Animals. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 95-103. Funding Source: National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Roberts, Reactions Attributed to Aspartame ­ Containing Products: 551 Cases. Journal of Applied Nutrition 1988;40:85-94. . Funding Source: Palm Beach Institute of Medical Research Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Wurtman and Maher, Calculation of the Aspartame Dose for Rodents that Produces Neurochemical Effects Comparable to Those Occurring in People. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 144-148. Funding Source: M.I.T. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Pinto JM, Mahea TJ, Administration of Aspartame Potentiates Pentylenetetrazole and Fluorothyl-Induced Seizures in Mice. Neuropharmacology 1988;27(1):51-55. Funding Source: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Walton, The Possible Role of Aspartame in Seizure Induction. Proceedings of the first International Conference on Phenylalanine and the Brain. Wurtman RJ, Walker E (eds.), Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust, Cambridge, 1987. Funding Source: Chautauqua County Dept of Mental Health Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Olney, Excitotoxic Food Additives ­ Functional Teratological Aspects. In Progress in Brain Research, Vol 73 ­ Biochemical Basis of Functional Neuroteratology: Permanent Effects of Chemical on the Developing Brain, edited by Boer, GJ, et al., Elsevier, New York 1988. Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Steinmetzer and Kunkel, Aspartame and Headache [letter]. N Engl J Med 1988;318(18):1201. Funding Source: Cleveland Clinic Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Spiers, et al., Aspartame and Human Behavior: Cognitive and Behavioral Observations. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 169-178. Funding Source: Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Sardesai, et. al., Effect of Aspartame in Diabetic Rats. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 265-268. . Funding Source: Wayne State University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Matalon, et. al., Aspartame Consumption in Normal Individuals and Carriers for Phenylketonuria. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 41-52. Funding Source: N.I.H. and The University of IllinoisFindings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Guiso G, Caccia S, Vezzani A, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on Seizures in Various Models of Experimental Epilepsy. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 1988;96:485-493. Funding Source: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Via Eritrea Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Johns, Aspartame and Headache. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 303-312. Funding Source: Johns Hopkins University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Fernstrom, Effects of Aspartame Ingestion on Large Neutral Amino Acids and Monoamine Neurotransmitters in the Central Nervous System. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 87-96. Funding Source N.I.M.H. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Maher and Kiritsy, Aspartame Administration Decreases the Entry of Alpha-Methyldopa into the Brain of Rats. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 122-126. Funding Source: Massachusetts College of Pharmacy Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Elsas, Aspartame and Migraine. N Engl J Med 1988;318(18):1201. Funding Source: Emory University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Kim, et al., The Effect of Aspartame on 50% Convulsion Doses of Lidocaine. In: Wurtman and Ritter-Walker (eds.). Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Boston: Birkhauser, 1988, pp. 127-130. Funding Source: Indiana University and Ball State University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Blundell, Effects of Aspartame on Appetite and Food Intake. In Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function, Wurtman and Ritter-Walker, Editors, 1988;Birkhauser, Boston, 275-295. Funding Source: University of Leeds Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Lipton RB, Newman LC, Cohen JS, Solomon S, Aspartame and Headache. The New England Journal of Medicine 1988 May 5;1200. Funding Source: Albert Einstein College of Medicine Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Lipton, et al., Aspartame as a Dietary Factor in Headache. Neurology 1988;38:356. . Funding Source: National Headache Foundation Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Lipton, et al., Aspartame as a Dietary Trigger of Headache. Headache 1989;29(2):90-2. Funding Source: National Headache Foundation Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1988 Koehler SM, Glaros A, The Effect of Aspartame on Migraine Headache. Headache 1988;28:10-13. Funding Source: Center for Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust & The University of Florida Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1989 Potenza DD and el-Mallakh RS, Aspartame: Clinical Update. Conn Med 1989;53(7):395-400. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1989 Holder MD and Yirmiya R, Behavioral Assessment of the Toxicity of Aspartame. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 1989;32:17-26. Funding Source N.I.H. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1989 Dow-Edwards DL, Scribani LA, Riley EP, et. al., Impaired Performance on Odor-Aversion Testing Following Prenatal Aspartame Exposure in the Guinea Pig. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 1989 Jul-Aug;11(4):413-416. Source: Laboratory of Cerebral Metabolism, State University of New York. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1989 Bresnick, Excitotoxins: A Possible New Mechanism for the Pathogenesis of Ischemic Retinal Damage. Arch Opmalmol 1989 Mar;107(3):339-41. Source: N.I.H. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1990 Turdoff MG, and Alleva AM, Oral Stimulation with Aspartame Increases Hunger. Physiology Behavior 1990;47(3):555-9. Source: None Specified Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1990 Pan-Hou H, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Sensitive L-[3H] Glutamate Binding Sites in Rat Brain Synaptic Membranes. Brain Research 1990;520(1-2):351-353. Funding Source: Setsunan UniversityFindings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Strathman, Recurrent Vulvovaginitis Resulting From the Heavy Dietary Use of Aspartame. 
Journal of Reproductive Medicine 1991 Aug;36(8):572. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Roberts, Does Aspartame Cause Human Brain Cancer. Journal of Advancement in Medicine 4(4):231-241. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Watts RS, Aspartame, Headaches and Beta Blockers. Headache 1991;31(3):181-2. Funding Source: None Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 McCauliffe DP, Poitras K, et. al., Aspartame-Induced Lobular Panniculitis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1991;24(2 Pt 1):298-300. Funding Source: USAF Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Moller SE, Effect of Aspartame and Protein, Administered in Phenylalanine-Equivalent Doses on Plasma Neutral Amino Acids, Aspartate, Insulin and Glucose in Man. Pharmacol Toxicol 1991;68(5):408-12. Funding Source: St. Hans Hospital, Denmark Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Diomed L, Romano M, Guiso G, et. al., Interspecies and Interstrain Studies on the Increased Susceptibility to Metrazol-Induced Convulsions in Animals given Aspartame. Food & Chem Toxicol 1991;29(2):101-106. Funding Source: Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Guiso, et. al., Effect of Tyrosine on the Potentiation by Aspartame and Phenylalanine of Metrazol-Induced Convulsions in Rats. Food Chem Toxicol 1991 Dec;29(12):855-7. Funding Source: Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Italy, Via Eritrea Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1991 Camfield PR, Camfield CS, Dooley JM, et. al., Aspartame Exacerbates EEG Spike Wave Discharge in Children With Generalized Absence Epilepsy: A Double-Blind Controlled Study. Neurology 1992;42:1000-1003. Funding Source: Ontario Ministry of Health Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1992 Gulya AJ, Sessions RB, Troost TR, et. al., Aspartame and Dizziness: Preliminary Results of a Prospective, Nonblinded, Prevalence and Attempted Cross-over Study. American J of Otology 1992 Sept;13(5):438-42. Funding Source: Georgetown University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1993 Shephard SE, Wakabayashi K, Nagao M, et. al., Mutagenic Activity of Peptides and the Artificial Sweetener Aspartame After Nitrosation. Food & Chemical Toxicol 1993;31(5):323-9. Funding Source: National Cancer Center Research Institute ­ Japan
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.

1993 Walton RG, Hudak R, Greenwaite RJ, Adverse Reaction to Aspartame: Double-Blind Challenge in Patients from a Vulnerable Population. Biological Psychiatry 1993;34(1-2):13-17. Funding Source: Western Reserve Care System
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1993 Eshel Y and Sarova-Pincus I, Aspartame and Seizures. Neurology 1993;43(10):2154-2155. Funding Source: None Specified
Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1993 Kasamaki A, Uresawa S, et. al., The Effect of Food Chemicals on Cell Aging of Human Diploid Cells in Vitro Culture. J Toxicol Sci 1993;18(3):143-53. Funding Source: Sapparo Medical College , Japan Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1993 Meldrum, Amino Acids as Dietary Excitotoxins: A Contribution to Understanding Neurodegenerative Disorders. Brain Res Rev 1993 Sept-Dec;18(3):293-314. Funding Source: Institute of Psychiatry ­ London Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1994 Van Den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Langstreth WT Jr, et a., Aspartame Ingestion and Headaches: A randomized Crossover Trial. Neurology 1994;44(10):1787-93. Funding Source: University of Washington Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1994 Olney, Excitotoxins in Foods. Neurotoxicology 1996;15(3):535-544. Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1994 Gerrard JW, Richardson JS, Donat J, et. al., Neuropharmacological Evaluation of Movement Disorders that are Adverse Reactions to Specific Foods. Int J Neurosci 1994 May;76(1-2):61-9. Funding Source: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1994 Barua J, Bal A, A Health Alert: Emerging Facts about Aspartame. Jour Diab Assoc India 1995;35(4):92-107. Funding Source: S. L. Raheja Hospital Bombay Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1995 Sonnewald U, Muller T, Unsgaro G, Peterson SB, et. al., Effect of Aspartame on 45 CA Influx and LDH Leakage from Nerve Cells in Culture. Neuroreport 1995 45 CA;6(2);318-320. . Funding Source: Research Council of Norway Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1995 Kulczychi A Jr., Aspartame Induced Hives. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 1995;95(2):639-40. . Funding Source: Washington University Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1996 Roberts HJ, Aspartame as a Cause of Allergic Reactions, Including Anaphylaxis. Arch Intern Med 1996;156(9);1027-8. . Funding Source: Palm Beach Institute for Medical Research Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1996 Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins L, Increasing Brain Tumor Rates: Is There a Link to Aspartame? Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 1996;55(11);1115-1123. Funding Source: N.I.M.H. Findings: Adverse reaction identified.
1998 Trocho C, Pardo R, Rafecas I, Virgili J, Remesar X, Fernandez-Lopez JA, Alemany M, Formaldehyde Derived From Dietary Aspartame Binds to Tissue Components In Vivo. Life Sciences 1998;63(5);337-349. Funding Source: Universitat de Barcelona Findings: Adverse reaction identified.


Aspartame … The Bad News

Article courtesy of: Mark Gold mgold@tiac.net
(researcher for twenty years)

Aspartame was not approved until 1981, in dry foods. For over eight years the FDA refused to approve it because of the seizures and brain tumors this drug produced in lab animals. The FDA continued to refuse to approve it until President Reagan took office (a friend of Searle) and fired the FDA Commissioner who wouldn't approve it. Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes was appointed as commissioner. Even then there was so much opposition to approval that a Board of Inquiry was set up. The Board said: "Do not approve aspartame". Dr. Hayes OVERRULED his own Board of Inquiry. 

Shortly after Commissioner Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he left for a position with G.D. Searle's Public Relations firm. 

Long-Term Damage. It appears to cause slow, silent damage in those unfortunate enough to not have immediate reactions and a reason to avoid it. It may take one year, five years, 10 years, or 40 years, but it seems to cause some reversible and some irreversible changes in health over long-term use. 

METHANOL (AKA WOOD ALCOHOL/POISON) (10% OF ASPARTAME) Methanol/wood alcohol is a deadly poison. People may recall that methanol was the poison that has caused some "skid row" alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounter the enzyme chymotrypsin. 
The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a "food" product such as Jello). 
Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol "is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic." The recommend a limit of consumption of 7.8 mg/day. A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit. 

The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects. Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr Woodrow C. Monte, Director of the Food Science and Nutrition Laboratory at Arizona State University, "There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic, or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol." 
It has been pointed out that fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, that the methanol in natural products never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans. The troops of Desert Storm were "treated" to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages which had been heated to over 86 degrees F. in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP, may also have been a factor. 

In a 1993 act that can only be described as "unconscionable", the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be heated to above 86°degrees F (30°Degrees C). 

Much worse, on 27 June 1996, without public notice, the FDA removed all restrictions from aspartame allowing it to be used in everything, including all heated and baked goods. 

The truth about aspartame's toxicity is far different than what the NutraSweet Company would have you readers believe. In February of 1994, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the listing of adverse reactions reported to the FDA (DHHS 1994). Aspartame accounted for more than 75% of all adverse reactions reported to the FDA's Adverse Reaction Monitoring System (ARMS). By the FDA's own admission fewer then ONE PERCENT of those who have problems with something they consume ever report it to the FDA. This balloons the almost 10,000 complaints they once had to around a million. However, the FDA has a record keeping problem (they never did respond to the certified letter from the WEBMASTER of this site... a major victim!) and they tend to discourage or even misdirect complaints, at least on aspartame. The fact remains, though, that MOST victims don't have a clue that aspartame may be the cause of their many problems! Many reactions to aspartame were very serious including seizures and death. Those reactions included: 

Abdominal Pain, Anxiety attacks, arthritis, asthma, Asthmatic Reactions, Bloating, Edema (Fluid Retention), Blood Sugar Control Problems (Hypoglycemia or Hyperglycemia), Brain Cancer (Pre-approval studies in animals),Breathing difficulties burning eyes or throat, Burning Urination, Can't think straight, Chest Pains, chronic Cough, Chronic Fatigue, Confusion, Death, Depression, Diarrhea, Dizziness, Excessive Thirst or Hunger, fatigue, feel unreal, flushing of face, Hair Loss (Baldness) or Thinning of Hair, Headaches/Migraines dizziness, Hearing Loss, Heart palpitations, Hives (Urticaria), Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Impotency and Sexual Problems, inability to concentrate, Infection Susceptibility, Insomnia, Irritability, Itching, Joint Pains, laryngitis, "like thinking in a fog", Marked Personality Changes, Memory loss, Menstrual Problems or Changes, Migraines and Severe Headaches (Trigger or Cause From Chronic Intake), Muscle spasms, Nausea or Vomiting, Numbness or Tingling of Extremities, Other Allergic-Like Reactions, Panic Attacks, Phobias, poor memory, Rapid Heart Beat ,Rashes, Seizures and Convulsions, Slurring of Speech, Swallowing Pain, Tachycardia, Tremors, Tinnitus, Vertigo, Vision Loss, Weight gain

Aspartame Disease Mimics Symptoms or Worsens the Following Diseases

Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's Disease, Lupus, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), Diabetes and Diabetic Complications, Epilepsy, Alzheimer's Disease, Birth Defects, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lymphoma, Lyme Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Panic Disorder, Depression and other Psychological Disorders


How it happens:


Methanol, from aspartame, is released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin (Stegink 1984, page 143). Free methanol begins to form in liquid aspartame-containing products at temperatures above 86 degrees F.. also within the human body. 

The methanol is then converted to formaldehyde. The formaldehyde converts to formic acid, ant sting poison. Toxic formic acid is used as an activator to strip epoxy and urethane coatings. Imagine what it does to your tissues! 

Phenylalanine and aspartic acid, 90% of aspartame, are amino acids normally used in synthesis of protoplasm when supplied by the foods we eat. But when unaccompanied by other amino acids we use [there are 20], they are neurotoxic. 
That is why a warning for Phenylketonurics is found on EQUAL and other aspartame products. Phenylketenurics are 2% of the population with extreme sensitivity to this chemical unless it's present in food. It gets you too, causing brain disorders and birth defects! Finally, the phenyalanine breaks down into DKP, a brain tumor agent. 

In other words: Aspartame converts to dangerous byproducts that have no natural countermeasures. A dieter's empty stomach accelerates these conversions and amplifies the damage. Components of aspartame go straight to the brain, damage that causes headaches, mental confusion, seizures and faulty balance. Lab rats and other test animals died of brain tumors. 

Despite the claims of Monsanto and bedfellows: 

1. Methanol from alcohol and juices does not get converted to formaldehyde to any significant extent. There is very strong evidence to confirm this fact for alcoholic beverages and fairly strong evidence for juices. 
2. Formaldehyde obtained from methanol is very toxic in *very small* doses as seen by recent research. 
3. Aspartame causes chronic toxicity reactions/damage due to the methanol to formaldehyde and other break down products despite what is claimed otherwise by the very short, industry-funded experiments using a test substance that is chemically different and absorbed differently than what is available to the general public. "Strangely enough", almost all independent studies show that aspartame can cause health problems. 
4. A common ploy from Monsanto is to claim that aspartame is "safe" yet a few select people may have "allergic" reactions to it. This is typical Monsanto nonsense, of course. Their own research shows that it does not cause "allergic" reactions. It is there way of trying to minimize and hide the huge numbers of toxicity reactions and damage that people are experiencing from the long-term use of aspartame. 

Summary

Given the following points, it is definitely premature for researchers to discount the role of methanol in aspartame side effects: 
1. The amount of methanol ingested from aspartame is unprecedented in human history. Methanol from fruit juice ingestion does not even approach the quantity of methanol ingested from aspartame, especially in persons who ingest one to three liters (or more) of diet beverages every day. Unlike methanol from aspartame, methanol from natural products is probably not absorbed or converted to its toxic metabolites in significant amounts as discussed earlier. 
2. Lack of laboratory-detectable changes in plasma formic acid and formaldehyde levels do not preclude damage being caused by these toxic metabolites. Laboratory-detectable changes in formate levels are often not found in short exposures to methanol. 
3. Aspartame-containing products often provide little or no nutrients which may protect against chronic methanol poisoning and are often consumed in between meals. Persons who ingest aspartame-containing products are often dieting and more likely to have nutritional deficiencies than persons who take the time to make fresh juices. 
4. Persons with certain health conditions or on certain drugs may be much more susceptible to chronic methanol poisoning. 
5. Chronic diseases and side effects from slow poisons often build silently over a long period of time. Many chronic diseases which seem to appear suddenly have actually been building in the body over many years. 
6. An increasing body of research is showing that many people are highly sensitive to low doses of formaldehyde in the environment. Environmental exposure to formaldehyde and ingestion of methanol (which converts to formaldehyde) from aspartame likely has a cumulative deleterious effect. 
7. Formic acid has been shown to slowly accumulate in various parts of the body. Formic acid has been shown to inhibit oxygen metabolism. 
8. The are a very large and growing number of persons are experiencing chronic health problems similar to the side effects of chronic methanol poisoning when ingesting aspartame-containing products for a significant length of time. This includes many cases of eye damage similar to the type of eye damage seen in methanol poisoning cases. 
Toxicity Effects of Aspartame Use Selection of Health Effects from Short-term and/or Long-Term Use Note: It often takes at least sixty days without any aspartame NutraSweet to see a significant improvement. Check all labels very carefully (including vitamins and pharmaceuticals). Look for the word "aspartame" on the label and avoid it. (Also, it is a good idea to avoid "acesulfame-k" or "sunette.") Finally, avoid getting nutrition information from junk food industry PR organizations such as IFIC or organizations that accept large sums of money from the junk and chemical food industry such as the American Dietetic Association. 
If you are a user of any products with aspartame, and you have physical, visual, mental problems... take the 60-day no aspartame test. If, after two months with no aspartame your symptoms are either gone, or are much less severe, please get involved to get this neurotoxin off the market. Write a letter to the FDA, with a copy to Betty Martini (for proof of how the FDA doesn't keep proper records). Write your congressmen. Return products containing aspartame to the point of purchase... for a FULL refund. Make a big stink if they WON'T give you a full refund! Tell all your friends and family... and if they stop using aspartame and also "wake up well"... get them involved in the same way. 
Aspartame is an "approved sweetener" because of a few greedy and dishonest people who place profits above human life and well-being. With the FDA and our Congress culpable, only an INFORMED and ACTIVE public will affects its reclassification from "food additive" to TOXIC DRUG, and removed from the human food chain.