December 11, 2010

Essay on the Dangers of Aspartame

Aspartame, the Bitter Truth of a Sweet Tooth

As of 1981 Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has been a regular component of the food supply. People choose the additive over sugar due to the lack of calorie intake it offers, and most industries push the consumption of the chemical because it has taken over diet beverages and sugar free sweets all over the nation. In fact, most informational websites on the product make claims such as the drug has been rigorously testedin addition to who it has been tested on, when in reality throughout the history of aspartame a lot of information has been closeted and withheld from the general public. A lot of speculation has circulated about the effects of aspartame on the human body. Only by digging through standard files held by the FDA and conducting some of my own research was I able draw conclusions about the product that I found were enough to cause the removal of it from my diet completely.

In 1965 G.D. Searle and Company, a corporation based on life sciences, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and animal health accidentally manufactured a chemical called Aspartame. It was discovered by chemist and Searle employee, James M. Schlatter while doing work on producing an anti-ulcer drug. During testing, he got some on his finger and realized it was sweet, and thus began the idea of the toxic sugar substitute.

The chemical was not brought to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration until 1977, where it was denied and labeled unfit for human consumption for a variety of reasons, one of the most important being inconclusive experimental data. These results were drawn after the FDA did their own investigation on Searle’s experiments with aspartame titled theBressler Report. In their summary of findings, a note was taken which was one of over 50 examples which debased the credibility of Searle and their scientists.

A record dated 4-27-73 for housing group M does not have the date entered. The observations were made for this animal on sheets covering weeks 92, 96, 100 and 104, indicating that the animal was dead. The record for week 108, however, shows that the animal is alive, with motor activity, appetite, and thirst. The record for week 112 again shows that the animal is dead. (Bressler)

Other inconclusive data during the experiments stemmed from the lack of a control group, inaccurate and careless observations, and essentially the inability to tell whether the developed brain tumors and death of the rats were derived from the drug or other unknown causes. No real conclusion about the harms of aspartame could then be drawn.

Questionable experiments on lab rats were not the only tests Searle had run on the drug. In fact in 1996, a report was released by Editor of The Milk Weed, Pete Hardin, titled FDA Pivotal Safety Study: Aspartame Caused Brain Seizures in which showed the details of an experiment done by Dr. Harold Waisman, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin.

Searle had hired Dr. Waisman to examine the effects of the drug on infant Rhesus monkeys for 52 weeks in 1972. The study was titled SC- 18862. Early on when Schlatter discovered aspartame, it was concluded that the drug was composed of 3 chemicals; 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid and 10% methanol. Not only is methanol, or wood alcohol, a registered poison but it quickly converts to formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde causes severe damage to the immune and neurological system.

Waismans study paralleled Schlatters in many ways, the biggest of which being the absence of a control group within the experiment. Another flaw was found when one monkey died after 42 weeks of experimentation with an undetermined cause of death. Reasons for death were questionable because all data on the monkey had been misplaced. However, what Waisman was certain about was that during the experiments all of the monkeys exhibited increased levels of phenylalanine in their blood as well as experienced grand mal seizures after 28 weeks. The drug was distributed through a milk solution.

Interestingly enough when Pete Hardin published his article in The Milkweed, an information database for U.S. dairy companies, research was shown that expressed different dangers of aspartame that had not previously been considered. Apparently, even more risks occur when the drug is mixed with dairy products, which was shown in an interview from Robert Cohen, a professional in the field of brain chemistry. Cohens theory on why the monkeys suffered seizures is as stated:

The milk-based formula in which the monkeys were served their Aspartame in this study is a key link why the brain seizures were suffered. Ingesting dairy products elevates the pH of the stomach. Drinking a 12 oz. glass of milk buffers the pH of the human stomach from 2 to 6. At a pH of 6, simple proteins such as aspartame pass through undigested. Thus, they move to the blood stream intact. (Hardin)
Essentially, the key reason aspartame was not filtered out during digestion was because of the high pH of the stomach from the milk carrier used in Waisman’s study. In times like this, aspartame breaks down but will remain in the body until it is absorbed into the blood stream. This information plus those drawn from experiment SC- 18862 shows high levels of phenylalanine in the blood comes from the ingestion of aspartame. However, at this point the dangers of the drug were still unknown.

Aspartame was denied by the FDA continuously after its introduction in 1977. Out of 112 experiments done on the drug, 15 were considered pivotal or inconclusive. Despite these facts, in 1981 the drug finally made it to market when President Reagan appointed Donald Rumsfeld as the Secretary of Defense. Rumsfeld, who prior to being a member of the Presidents transition team was CEO of G.D. Searle and company since 1977, appointed Arthur Hull Hayes, M.D and former member of the Army's Chemical Weapons division, as a new FDA commissioner. As commissioner, Hayes pushed to overrule the denial of aspartame almost immediately. In doing so he caused the drug to be approved as an artificial sweetener labeled NutraSweet based on the grounds that it is 180 times sweeter than sugar with no calories. (Hevesi)

Fig. 1Video About Donald Rumsfeld and his involvement with Aspartame

However, in 1995 the Freedom of Information act forced the FDA to release a list of symptoms caused by aspartame as reported by thousands of victims.
Fig. 2 A chart that shows symptoms exhibited by aspartame consumption in 1995.

Thus in 1996 the drug was up for question once again by the FDA. Dr. John Oleny, founder of the field of excitotoxicity, and Attorney James Turner teamed up with FDA toxicologist Dr. Adrian Gross who experimented with the drug on lab rats once more and drew his own conclusions. Gross reported to congress by saying “Without a shadow of a doubt, aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer and violates the Delaney Amendment which forbids putting anything in food that is known to cause Cancer.”

Over the years extensive research done by doctors and toxicologists has shown the dangers of the drug. Dr. Betty Martini, creator of Mission Possible World Health International, comments on the dangers of aspartame by saying that the drug adversely interacts with vaccines, antidepressants, cardiac medication, hormones, insulin, and other drugs which are heavily prescribed. Mission Possible is a worldwide organization centered around banning aspartame due to the health risks it has shown to exhibit. Specific research done by Dr. Martini and renowned M.D. F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P. Dr. H. J. Roberts has also proven that there are health risks attached to phenylalanine consumption.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center Database “Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid (a building block for proteins in the body), meaning the body needs it for health but cannot make it; you have to get it from food.”

Our bodies naturally change phenylalanine into tyrosine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is essential in the production of brain chemicals such as L-dopa, epinephrine and norepinephrine as well as thyroid hormones. These hormones all effect the onset and stages of depression in the brain. On the other hand, a rare metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU) occurs in people who are missing an enzyme that the body needs to use phenylalanine. This causes high levels of phenylalanine to build up. If it is not treated before 3 weeks of age, PKU can cause severe, irreversible mental retardation. In the United States, newborns are tested for PKU during the first 48 - 72 hours of life. People with PKU must eat a diet that avoids phenylalanine and take tyrosine supplements to have optimum brain development and growth.

According to Martini, phenylalanine in aspartame causes a depletion of serotonin in the brain which has been linked to irregular fetal development, behavioral problems in children and the onset of depression. Other researchers have added to the study, stating that aspartame is known to cause headaches, memory loss, vision loss and cancer. It is even proven to induce seizures and comas and mimic the symptoms of fibromyalgia, MS, Lupus, ADD, Alzheimer’s and chronic fatigue (Martini, 5).

In 2003, Martini created a petition on behalf of Mission Possible World Health International proposed in efforts to re-label aspartame, changing it from a sugar substitute to a drug, and then to ban it all together. 100 participants signed the document stated below:

Aspartame is a neurotoxin and a carcinogen, and in light of the Congressional Record, we feel it has been shown that aspartame is a teratogen (causes birth defects). We feel that it should be reclassified from “safe food additive” to “drug” (we know the drug application was withdrawn). We feel aspartame and all products containing aspartame for human consumption should be recalled… then aspartame should be banned. We believe aspartame has remained on the market possibly only through political and business ties. We strongly believe the Bressler Report and the Barcelona Study from Spain both prove that we have the right to demand the recall and ban of aspartame. (Martini)

Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, medical text written by Dr. H. J. Roberts in 2001, suggests that aspartame has a huge hand in the current obesity epidemic as well. Apparently, the drug itself makes you crave carbohydrates, and the formaldehyde within the drug accumulates in the fat cells of your body. Formaldehyde blocks your fat cells from being attacked by the t-cells, a natural reaction which occurs during cardio activity. Thus, instead of your body breaking down the complex sugars gained from carbohydrates and using them as energy, the sugar stays stored in your fat cells and becomes hard inert material.

Combined research between Dr. Martini and Dr. Roberts has stated that since the approval of aspartame 75% of complaints towards the FDA come from the artificial sweetener. Most are side effects of the drug and in those side effects death is included. The dangers of its presence in the food supply as an additive is mind-boggling because aspartame is a drug used to make things sweeter; Roberts continues in Martinis petition to claim it is a crime to approve a drug as a food additive based on the strength of the synergistic and additive properties it has with other drugs and chemicals. Aspartame is no exception. It literally interacts with virtually every drug that is used to treat symptoms cause by aspartame.

In this case aspartame is a neurotoxic drug. Dr. Roberts mentions under interference with drug action (page 488 of Aspartame Disease) that aspartame can alter the action of important drugs. They include coumarin (Coumadin), phenytoin (Dilantin), antidepressants, other psychotropic agents, propranolol (Inderal), methyldopa (Aidomet), throxine (Synthroid) and insulin. This means that aspartame victims don’t have a chance because physicians have been lied to, and having no knowledge that aspartame is a drug, can prescribe the very drug that will interact, since it reacts with just about every drug used to treat the problems it causes. If someone had a seizure from aspartame which is so common its epidemic, they would prescribe Dilantin or like drugs and they interact. It is pushed on diabetics and aspartame not only can precipitate diabetes but interacts with insulin. Aspartame damages the cardiac conduction system and interacts with cardiac medication. The phenylalanine in aspartame not only lowers the seizure threshold but depletes serotonin which triggers all kinds of behavioral and psychiatric problems, and aspartame interacts with antidepressants. It can precipitate Parkinson’s and interacts with L- dopa. The FDA approved the neurotoxin Redux and FenPhen and if they took this with an aspartame laced drink, it’s a double whammy as mentioned by psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Walton. This could be the reason so many died. (Martini, 4-5)

The sugar substitute most commonly goes by the name NutraSweet, but is found as aspartame in most diet drinks including diet Snapple, diet Coke, diet Pepsi, and many more. It is an ingredient of approximately 6,000 consumer foods and beverages sold worldwide such as gum and other sugar substitutes like Sweet'N Low and Equal. Previously mentioned research done by Robert Cohen is significant because the artificial sweetener is frequently used in beverages such as coffee and tea which are regularly drank with milk, thus increasing the health risk of phenylalanine absorption into the blood stream. With that being said, the FDA still denies that any part of aspartame is absorbed into the blood.

It is no secret that the dangers of aspartame in the human body are numerous. However, is it also no secret that corporate America and the appeal of wealth is the driving force to many decisions. When Monsanto, a multi-trillion dollar conglomerate that specializes in biotechnology through the production and wholesale of seeds and chemicals, bought Searle and the rights to aspartame for $2.7 billion in 1985, Rumsfeld reportedly received a $12 million bonus as CEO of G.D. Searle and Company. Researchers have been quoted speaking out against the verdict.
While the "research" performed by the aspartame industry after approval is abysmal, the preapproval "research" was much worse. Despite this fact, FDA officials essentially "sold out" to the manufacturer and approved the junk. (Gold)

Essentially, the decision to approve the drug warranted nothing for the advancement of science and research, just a yearning for profit. The pharmaceutical and food industries are making millions off of the product and turn a blind eye to the true cost of the drugs progression. The human race almost doesn’t stand a chance and consequently adverse reactions no different than what was seen in lab animals throughout the timeline of aspartames existence mirror those which are now being seen in humanity today.

“The world is, indeed, plagued by a global epidemic of symptoms associated with aspartame use.”
–Dr. H.J. Roberts.

1 comment:

  1. I was just wandering around the internet when I found this and I must say it has truly widened my eyes to the situation in the food market. Thank you.