Melissa Melton
November 12, 2012

On Oct. 24, NBC news put out an article attempting to refute a recent study, conducted jointly with Harvard Medical School and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that found that drinking as little as one diet soda sweetened with Aspartame per day could cause an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma in adults.


Claiming the study was “weak science,” NBC news failed to mention the fact that this latest study is the most thorough on aspartame to date, involving more than 2 million years of human life data spanning 22 years from more than 77,000 women and 48,000 men.

The NBC story also claims “Few reporters read that journal,” in reference to American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, even though it was selected by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential journals in Biology and Medicine over the last 100 years.

Aspartame (otherwise known by its brand names NutraSweet and Equal or alternate monicker Acesulfame Potassium) is one of the most widely used artificial sweeteners on the market today. Found in thousands of foods and beverages including chewing gum, candies, diet soft drinks, desserts, yogurt, condiments, and even vitamins and pharmaceuticals, aspartame is not limited only to “sugar-free” diet products.

The average grocery store is rife with aspartame-filled products, so it would likely surprise the average consumer to find that it took the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over 20 years to approve aspartame’s use.

What is aspartame exactly, and if its so healthy and safe, why did it take so long for the FDA to approve it?

Aspartame is the excrement of genetically modified E. coli bacteria. It is comprised of 40 percent aspartic acid, 50 percent phenylalanine, and 10 percent methanol. Aspartic acid acts as a neurotransmitter, and too much can actually over-excite the cells (known as an “excitotoxin”), thus stimulating them to death. Keep in mind the blood brain barrier cannot prevent this in many, as it does not fully protect all areas of the brain, especially in people already suffering from other chronic diseases and disorders, and is not fully developed in children. While phenylalanine is an amino acid already present in the brain, excess levels can cause serotonin to decrease over time, which can lead to chemical imbalances that cause depression and other mood and emotional disorders. Methanol is an industrial solvent, is used as fuel and antifreeze, and is a main ingredient in many paints and varnish removers. The EPA warns that methanol ingestion may result in neurological damage (specifically “permanent motor dysfunction”) and visual disturbances leading to blurred or dimmed vision and eventually blindness.

While Searle Pharmaceuticals attempted to get aspartame approved in the late 1970s, due to multiple studies provided on the negative effects of the chemical in lab animals including the fact that it actually ate holes in their brains, the FDA set up a public board of inquiry in 1980. Based on scientific evidence, the board found that aspartame might cause cancer and concluded the sweetener could not be put on the market until further testing was done. It got pushed through anyway after Ronald Reagan fired the FDA commissioner, replacing him with someone who would rubber stamp aspartame for his friend and Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld. Searle made billions, Monsanto purchased Searle in 1985, and Rumsfeld later became the Secretary of Defense.

Although millions of people consume aspartame every single day, it was never tested on humans prior to its approval.

The truth is many scientific studies have empirically shown the detrimental effects of aspartame over the years. While NBC can attempt to discount this latest study linking aspartame to cancer, can the mainstream media really spin the hundreds of studies that have shown aspartame is toxic and harmful to our health? The table below gives a smattering of aspartame studies published in scientific and medical journals listed on the National Institutes of Health website just this past year:


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Consumption of artificial sweetener and sugar-containing soda and risk of lymphoma and leukemia in men and women
Appetite Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels
Contact Dermatitis Systemic allergic dermatitis presumably caused by formaldehyde derived from aspartame
Drug and Chemical Toxicology Long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status
Journal of Biosciences Effect of chronic exposure to aspartame on oxidative stress in the brain of albino rats
Neurotoxicity Research Effect of aspartame on oxidative stress and monoamine neurotransmitter levels in lipopolysaccharide-treated mice
Nutrition and Metabolism Interactive effects of neonatal exposure to monosodium glutamate and aspartame on glucose homeostasis
PLOS One Gender dimorphism in aspartame-induced impairment of spatial cognition and insulin sensitivity

Moreover, why would the media continue to shill for an artificial sweetener? As best-selling author and osteopathic physician Dr. Joseph Mercola points out:

“Can you imagine the liability the food and beverage industries, not to mention virtually every public health agency in the U.S., would face were there convincing evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic? They simply cannot afford such evidence to be accepted.”

The mainstream media isn’t the only information source continually refuting the dangers of aspartame. The Aspartame Information Center at claims that scientific studies on everything from aspartame-induced brain tumors to seizures to weight gain are merely “myths.” It shouldn’t surprise many to find that and its information center are run by the Calorie Control Council, an international association representing, “manufacturers and suppliers of low- and reduced-calorie foods.”

Dr. Mercola notes that aspartame actually accounts for over 75 percent of adverse food additive reactions reported to the FDA, including:

“Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.”

In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even lists aspartame as a “chemical with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity” on its database of developmental neurotoxicants.

If You Like Aspartame, You’ll Love Neotame

In the late ’90s, Monsanto geared up to unleash a new sweetener on the masses: neotame.

Scientists based this new artificial sweetener on aspartame, but by “enhancing” the dipeptide base, they were able to create a chemical 40 times sweeter than aspartame. Neotame is everything that aspartame is, plus 3-dimethylbutyl. A member of the sec-Hexyl acetate family, 3-dimethylbutyl is listed by the EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a hazardous chemical. The CDC warns one should seek immediate medical attention for if swallowed as it targets the central nervous and respiratory systems.

Dr. H. J. Roberts, M.D., who presented material to show “Aspartame Disease” is a global epidemic at the First International Conference on Emerging Diseases, has testified that neotame was approved without any long-term independent studies purely for profit because aspartame’s patent expired.

Despite the fact that all of the studies on neotame were short-term and entirely Monsanto- or corporate-interest funded, the FDA approved neotame in 2002.

In a nation where genetically modified food labeling initiatives fail, defrauded by the very companies willing to spend millions to defeat them, what does “safe” food even mean anymore? Guess it all depends on who you ask.

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” — Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, quoted in The New York Times, Oct. 25, 1998

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