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Aspartame safe says FDA

Kouign Aman

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A recent Italian study concluded aspartame is unsafe, however the FDA says the preponderance of data shows it is safe for consumption.

Do you consume foods containing it? Do the benefits outweigh the risks, if any?

(unless you have PKU).

Aspartame article

Since I dont drink soda, I dont get much exposure to this stuff, but I can see it playing a large role in weight loss, which is usually a good thing.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I don't have a sweet tooth so I could care less either way.

Just because something is carcinogenic in some quantitities for some animals (which is doubtful anyway as your link shows), doesn't mean that it's carcinogenic for humans especially in any quantitity that humans actually consume.

of course, hypothetically, even if it did have adverse health consequences, those may be less than that caused by the consumption of sugar.

so, yeah, I could care less and don't care if it's used.

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No and I havent in 14 years...

I find it odd that autism, CFS, ADD/ADHD etc have all risen exponentially since 1980 when it was introduced.

personally, I find it odd that those disorders have risen exponentially since the introduction of Care Bears.

of course, the simple (and generally undisputed among scientists) reason for the rise in diagnosis of autism et al is that they started looking for it. ADD/ADHD didn't exist as a specified disorder before the 1980's (like many, I suspect it's simply a diagnosis of normal childhood hyperactivity (primarily in males)).

as for autism, the reality is that autistic behavior was simply classified as "retarded" or "slow" and that beginning around 1980 the APA (and others) began pushing the specific diagnosis of autism.

in other words, this is the classic mistake of confusing a rise in diagnosis with a rise in the underlying phenomena.

put differently, introduce a more sensitive test for anything and you will find a higher incidence of whatever it is you're looking for. introduce a new phenomena altogether (ADD/ADHD) and of course it will rise since it's starting at zero.

example: after the BSE crisis in Europe, diagnoses of CJD (albeit not new-variant CJD) went up significantly in the U.S. obviously, some excitable types took that as indicating that BSE was here. the reality is that doctors were looking for it due to heightened awareness)

Edited by Nathan (log)
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I'm suspicious of Aspartame, but the main reason I avoid it is the same as what Bueno posted above: It tastes TERRIBLE! I find stevia perfectly OK as a sugar substitute, if you need one.

Michael aka "Pan"


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I don't eat or drink it, no.  It has nothing to do with medical concerns, though.  It has lots to do with the fact that it makes things taste like aardvark piss.

I hesitate to ask how you know :blink::laugh:

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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As Nathan noted, correlation is not causation.

From the article you linked to (in case someone disbelieves the FDA, here's the European authorities speaking to the point):

After thoroughly reviewing Ramazzini data from a previous study, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food (AFC) stated in May, 2006, “In its opinion published today, the Panel concluded, on the basis of all the evidence currently available, that there is no need to further review the safety of aspartame nor to revise the previously established Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for aspartame (40 mg/kg body weight).”

I think whatever risk there may be pales in comparison to the risks from smoking, alcohol, and red meat.

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The reason that I won't eat/drink things with it is that isn't natural. Its fake, just like margarine. I believe the effects of it, however small aren't worth it. Plus the taste, or aftertaste specifically is a big turnoff.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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When Coca Cola was first introduced with aspartame or Nutrasweet, I took to it because I couldn't use saccarine and sodium cyclamate had been taken off the market.

I think this was in the latter half of 1983 and I had no problems for a couple of years. In the meantime, many other products had begun using aspartame, flavored yogurts, puddings, and several soft drinks. Even the high fiber cereal Fiber One included aspartame.

In early December 1985 I began having mild episodes of cardiac arrhythmia which increased in duration and occurrence and I consulted a cardiologist. He ordered a bunch of tests and put me on a very restricted diet, no caffeine or other stimulants for a month and then he would have some more tests done. None of the tests showed any problem - I went along for six or seven months and had several treadmill tests.

I remained on the restricted diet avoiding anything containing caffeine and other stimulants, no soft drinks, juices and water only. During all that time I had two or three very mild episodes, nothing frightening, usually in the mornings, an hour or so after breakfast.

I was at the office on 9/23/86, had a bran muffin (homemade) for mid-morning snack and drank a diet 7-Up with my lunch. Thirty minutes later I was in the ER in the hospital next door with tachycardia and arrhythmia, short of breath, dizzy and unable to stand or even sit. After the cardiologist arrived and I was more or less stable, he questioned me about any medications I may have taken (suspicious of ephedra intoxication -which was still legal at the time) but I had not taken any meds, the only thing different was the diet 7-Up and I specifically asked if it was possible the aspartame might be the culprit but he thought not.

I was discharged after a couple of days and being stable for 36 hours. On my own, I began checking every food item and noticed that the flavored yogurt I usually had for breakfast contained aspartame. I cut that out and also stopped using the Fiber One in my bran muffins.

Again, the cardiologist wanted to do multiple tests over a period of several months and I dutifully went along with them and he even mentioned the possibility of a pacemaker. After several months of having fairly normal results, I again brought up the possibility of aspartame causing the problem and showed the doctor my journal, in which I had kept careful records of my intake. Certainly caffeine was not a problem because I had resumed drinking tea but used sugar only.

Finally the cardiologist agreed to test me rather than rely on medical literature and I was started on a treadmill test. I did twelve minutes with no difficulty and was then give a very small amount of aspartame in water and continued on the treadmill. Less than a minute later I felt the first "blip" and subsequently a few little skips and runs. The treadmill was stopped and I was given water and they continued to monitor my EKG for a couple of hours. He finally agreed with me that my symptoms were probably caused by aspartame. Subsequently I have had annual physicals, treadmill tests, etc., no further problems with rapid or irregular heartbeat and it is now twenty years since I consumed anything containing aspartame. I read the label on everything and won't consume anything unless I know what it contains.

No double-blind studies were done to prove all this but I am convinced that with the proliferation of aspartame in so many food items, the concentration reached a threshold that affected my heart.

I have often wondered, when I see a news report about an otherwise healthy individual suffering ventricular tachycardia, sometimes fatal, if this might have been the cause and was overlooked because the link has not been noted.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I agree. I think where there is smoke (in this case LOTS of smoke) there is fire. I know a few people in my sons special needs groups that have had seizures because of Aspartame and my former MIL used to get blinding migraines because of Aspartame.

I do not think its safe.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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Furthering my contention that the use of Aspartame has increased ADD/ADHD and Autism...

There are those of the population that have Phenylketonuria and cant eat anything with Aspartame.

Here are the SYMPTOMS of Phenylketonuria (PKU)

Phenylketonuria (PKU) - Symptoms

Symptoms of phenylketonuria (PKU) usually develop within a few months after birth, once phenylalanine has built up in a baby's system from consuming the protein in formula or breast milk. Before birth, the mother's body filters out the excess phenylalanine for the unborn baby.

If a baby has a severe enzyme deficiency or if PKU is not detected and treated soon enough, phenylalanine builds up in the brain tissue and affects mental skills and the central nervous system. Symptoms can become severe by about 8 weeks of age and may include:

* Unusual behavior, such as screaming episodes, repetitive rocking, head banging, and arm biting (common in older children).

* Loss of skills and abilities related to severe mental retardation.

* Growth and developmental delays.

* Seizures.

PKU also affects the synthesis of melanin, which provides pigment (color) to the skin, eyes, and hair. About 90% of children with PKU have blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.2

Interesting that those symptoms sound just like AUTISM, HUH?

AND that they occur MONTHS after birth!

Here is another list

Symptoms Return to top

* Skin rashes (eczema)

* Microcephaly

* Tremors

* Jerking movements of the arms or legs (spasticity)

* Unusual positioning of hands

* Seizures

* Hyperactivity

* Delayed mental and social skills

* Mental retardation

* A distinctive "mousy" odor to the urine, breath, and sweat

* Light complexion, hair, and eyes

Notice seizures and hyperactivity? As Ive said a friend of my sons who has severe retardation cannot have aspartame due to seizures... Interesting isnt it? But she isnt PKU.

Alot of people say that Celiac Sprue is common in families with diabetes. But they never develop diabetes.

Same can be theorized with autism or add/adhd and Aspartame usage.

Just because someone doesnt have PKU (in my opinion) doesnt mean they dont have something related that hasnt been identified yet.

As autism usually occurs months after the birth as does PKU, who is to say what caused it. Maybe a chain of events causes it, but I definitely think aspartame needs to be looked at as a part of that chain, or at least Phenylalanine.

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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the plural of anecdote is not data.

PKU is not autism.

correlations are infinite in number. the vast majority of them are not causative.

almost all complex phenomena do not have monocausal explanations.

many/most illnesses and disorders are (for all practical purposes) random.

but...human beings have an innate desire and tendency to seek an easy explanation for everything. it's understandable, albeit often wrong.

I'm not going to say anymore on this subject cause you're going to believe what you want to believe. but there is absolutely no scientific evidence that aspartame is dangerous at all to humans in any quantities actually consumed by humans.

this has been tested, studied and examined to almost the limits of absurdity.

I don't have a horse in this race. I don't like sweet things to begin with and don't really drink soda. but food (for obvious reasons) is one of those areas where pseudoscience and misinformation are most commonly seen.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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PKU was first identified well before the introduction of aspartame to the market. There is no aspartame cause and effect leading to PKU.

What happens there is that over time, the concentration of phenylalanine (a normal protein component) builds up to toxic levels, leading to the development of symptoms.

If PKU is diagnosed immediately, the infant can be placed on a restricted diet, which limits intake of phenylalanine, and thus slows the buildup. Since aspartame consists of three amino acids, one of which is phenylalanine, it is obviously not wise for a phenylketonuriac to ingest it.

Odd medical trivia - PKU was identified due to a persistent Swedish gramma who insisted to the pediatrican that her grandkid's diaper smelled funny. She persisted til the Dr did tests.

Its my understanding autism tends to be diagnosed in 2-3 year olds. I havent encountered many kids who get direct exposure to aspartame, tho I'm sure they are out there. So you'd be proposing that parental exposure lead to autism. Its an interesting question.

Personally, I don't avoid aspartame, but I was curious if others did. Andiesenji's information is interesting. It could be there's a high threshold level for these effects among a small segment of the population, or she could have a unique sensitivity.

It seems to me that as a sugar substitute for diabetics it has redeeming qualities sufficient to justify its use.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Andiesenji's story is interesting, but doesn't really tell us anything except that some people are sensitive to certain things in certain circumstances. Someone could report the same story with respect to caffeine, black peppercorns or even carrot juice -- it still doesn't mean that carrots are causing autism, giving us brain seizures and wrecking our hearts. It just means that that one person, and by logical extension an infinitesimal percentage of the population, has a bad reaction to carrot juice.


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There have been a great number of studies published regarding aspartame.


Note that all of these: listed in Wikipedia "aspartame controversy"

were published after my experience.

Note that I am also allergic to alcohol - however my reaction to alcohol is anaphylaxis with edema of the larynx and respiratory distress.

In the late 1950s I was a medical lab technician, working in histology and was exposed to formaldehyde and developed symptoms consistent with exposure to the substance. (In those days there was little or no notice about avoiding exposure to chemicals - carbon tetracholoride was sold in many places for cleaning electronic parts.)

Perhaps I became sensitive to these chemicals but did not have a significant exposure until the 1980s.

In the gut, aspartame breaks down into methanol and then converted to formaldehyde which is the same process that happens to all sugar alcohols. However, some researchers have found evidence that there is a threshold level in some individuals that allows the levels to build up.

There are individuals who cannot tolerate certain substances because their bodies do not produce the enzymes or hormones that allow them to metabolize and/or excrete the excess chemicals.

Individuals with gout build up concentrations of uric acid crystals in the joints.

Obviously, Type I diabetics do not produce insulin and can't convert sugars.

40% of aspartame breaks down into aspartic acid and significant levels of this can affect how nerves work - the cardiac episodes I experienced were a result of the "misfiring" of the nerves that control heart rhythm so that the vertricles move the blood in the correct order. Something caused it and at that time, the sophisticated equipment that could pinpoint the trigger was not yet available. It is now, but I am not willing to go through a terrifying experience to test it. I am 20 years older and my overall health is not as good as then.

I think that some of the claims about aspartame are idiotic - there are many websites that attribute some bizarre conditions (such as "chronic fatigue syndrome" and "fibromyalgia") to aspartame, some of which I think are totally bogus. There is a Dr. Mercola who believes and preaches that all artificial sweeteners are downright dangerous - except for the "natural" sweeteners that he markets - containing stevia, which has its own problems. - However, I often wonder how many people are walking around with pacemakers because they may have the same sensitivity that I have.

I have met and corresponded with five other people who had similar experiences, not quite as severe as mine, but one 23-year-old, very athletic woman, stopped drinking 6 cans of diet caffeine-fee Pepsi daily and the palpitations she had been experiencing for three or four years stopped.

The stuff is in so many things that it is difficult to know just how much one is consuming on a daily basis. It might be fine if it is just taken in tea or coffee or soft drinks, a couple of times a day. However, if it is in cereal, yogurt, juices, jello, puddings, salad dressings, sweets, baked goods, etc., etc., etc., the total amount consumed can be overwhelming.

Diabetics have to keep a record of everything they consume that contains sugar or that converts to sugar and it is often difficult for some people to comprehend that what may look like a healthy snack can push one over the limit.

As far as sensitivity to carrot juice - anything in excess can cause problems. I worked for an orthopedic surgeon for many, many years. We saw children with rickets, not from lack of vitamins but from too much, which caused softening of the long bones in the legs. Mothers believed that if a little was good, more would be even better. A huge mistake.

Carotenosis is a benign condition that happens when someone consumes too much beta carotein, for instance, drinking huge amounts of carrot juice so the skin turns orange. Massive doses over a long period can cause the accumulation of Vitamin A and that can cause severe problems.

Anything in excess can be dangerous and/or deadly and often it is related to body mass. What is safe for an adult may not be safe for a child.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Can't stand Aspartame because of the taste.

I generally can't stand artificial sweeteners. I don't mind them used to do some MG trick but that's a very occasional thing to eat. If you want sugar have sugar but if you want diet drink have something natural like water. (As a caveat I don't mind using MSG when I cook, used correctly it can add extra umami to food, used wrong to make bad food taste good it's one of the worst things going).

Also why most people that drinking diet drinks are overweight. One theory is that you drink a sweet drink and your body expects calories but when it gets zero it compensates by making you either more hungry or delays the full feeling so you over eat so. (Can't remember where I read this).

I'd prefer, to have a sugar laced drink when I wanted something sweet and water or non sugared drink when I didn't.

I don't think of weight loss in all this, but been the same weight as an adult for for 23 years (140lb)

Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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I was watching an old Pepsi commercial from the 1960s (remember Joanie Sommers and For those who think young....?) and laughed at the small cups of soda the actors were drinking. Easily two servings per can. But if you had half a can once or twice a week, with full cane sugar, you wouldn't need the diet version. I don't think it's a good idea to replace water or wine with all these chemicals and fizzy water.

I have noticed it's mostly very large people who drink a lot of Diet Coke and other diet drinks. Calories or not, I don't think it really helps with weight loss.

I should add I've managed to become a very large person without the aid of sodas. My demons are worth getting fat over!

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Also why most people that drinking diet drinks are overweight. One theory is that you drink a sweet drink and your body expects calories but when it gets zero it compensates by making you either more hungry or delays the full feeling so you over eat so. (Can't remember where I read this).

Another theory is that it's the overweight people who tend to go on diets. Occam's Razor, anyone?

(I consume copious amounts of aspartame [4-5 cans a day of diet soda] and haven't keeled over or contracted autism yet. I'll keep you posted.)

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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Interesting comments all around about aspartame. Certainly people can develop sensitivities or allergies to it, causing adverse reactions such as migraines, heart episodes, etc. As far as it causing certain problems like autism, ADD, etc. I believe that the causes are a combination of factors - environmental as well as genetic and we'll probably never be able to prevent or cure them. Can people with those challenges to eat healthier, purer food and feel better? Certainly. Is substituting aspartame for sugar and corn syrup a good thing for those folks and everyone? Well some folks may think so, and some may not.

It seems that a great quantity of aspartame is ingested by the soda pop drinkers who feel that aspartame sodas are healthier because they don't contain sugar (corn syrup).

But just how healthy are soda pops in the first place - sugar laden or not? Especially when drunk in huge quantities which seems to be the norm these days? It is astonishing to see the number of people who use soda pop as their primary source of hydration! Whatever happened to water?

I feel better overall not ingesting carbonated, mostly artificiallly flavored water mixtures into my body; having arrived at this conclusion after years of moderate off and on soda pop drinking. Anyways - now I"ll get off my soap box about soda pop.

As far as taste - I've yet to come across an artificial sweetener including aspartame and the newer product splenda that doesn't have a wierd extra sweetness with an unpleasant chemical aftertaste.

So do believe aspartame is safe? It's probably as safe as any chemical additive these days, if consumed in small amounts - i.e. the portion size intended by the manufacturer (which as we know seldom happens!)

Do I eat or drink things containing aspartame? Not if I can avoid it and I usually do.

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I have felt suspicious of it ever since it appeard. Perhaps because they went to such trouble to try and convince people it was okay. I won't use the stuff.

I do use it to kill ants though. Mix it half and half with sugar, wet it just slightly and put it where the ants are. Within a week, no more ants!

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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The only artificial food I use with any regularity is Splenda--I can't have sugar and sometimes I want something sweet. Fructose and honey are also sugar; can't have those, either. I have problems with aspartame--I have a muscle disorder and it makes things worse, even though I don't know why. Artificial colors also affect me.

I don't think personal experiences constitute data, but I know aspartame isn't good for me, personally.

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