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TinWiki: Aspartame

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posted on Jul, 10 2009 @ 01:10 PM

Aspartame or APM is an artificial sweetener used to replace sugar in, for example, soda. It is sometimes said that aspartame is not healthy to consume. APM is marketed under many names such as Tropicana Slim, Equal, NutraSweet, and Canderel. It has been added into approximately 6,000 other foods, such as beverages and foods. It is commonly use in a lot of diet drinks although there are a lot of bad side effects which have been categorized. It should not always be heated because some times it will loose all of its properties if you do. It is a keen use for diabetes in Europe, it goes under the name E951. As aforementioned there have been a lot of health issues surrounding it. It has negative effects such as headaches, brain tumors, brain lesions, and lymphoma.


Aspartame was discovered by a chemist working for Searle in 1965; the chemist was James M. Schlatter. The discovery was an accident, seeing as how Searle was trying to develop an anti-ulcer drug. As Schlatter was trying to recrystalize aspartame from ethanol, some of the mixture splashed out of the flask and onto Schlatter's hand. When he later licked his fingers to pick up a piece of paper, he noticed the strong, sweet taste and deducted that the sweet taste could be aspartame.

The first mention of its sweetness was not until 1969, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


Aspartame is a compound, made up of three components: methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine.

Methanol is a colorless, poisonous, flammable liquid. It is used for making, among other things, formaldehyde, paint strippers, carburetor cleaners, and chloromethanes.

Phenylalanine is an amino acid.

Aspartic acid is an excitotoxin. An excitotoxin is a substance that excites or over-stimulates nerve cells. This occurs in the brain and peripheral nerves, because in free form, aspartic acid is an absorption accelerate and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Properties and Uses

Aspartame Sweeteners

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is 180 times sweeter than sugar in normal concentrations. Due to its very low caloric count, it is a popular sweetener for those trying to avoid calories from sugar. The taste of aspartame is not identical to that of sugar; the sweetness of aspartame has a slower onset and longer duration. Public opinion is that aspartame creates an odd aftertaste, which many describe as a watery, almost non-taste.

In the body, aspartame breaks down into its original components (methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid), as well as formaldehyde, formic acid, and a diketopiperazine (organic compounds).

Phenylalanine is a health hazard to those born with/suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU). PKU is an inherited disease that prevents phenylalanine from being properly metabolized. Foods containing aspartame sold in the US must state "Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine" on their product labels.

In the UK, foods containing aspartame must list the chemical in the product's ingredients and carry the warning "Contains a source of phenylalanine".

Aspartame is used in artificial sweeteners such as Equal, NutraSweet, and Sweet 'n Low. It is used as the sweetener in diet colas and diet soft drinks like Crystal Light, as well as syrups, salad dressings, chewing gum, and certain snack foods.

FDA Approval

After aspartame's discovery in 1965 and announcement in 1969, initial safety testing was done. Due to a debate on whether aspartame caused cancer in rats, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not approve its use as a food additive for over a decade.

The FDA convened a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) in 1980, consisting of independent advisers charged with examining the alleged relationship between aspartame and brain damage and cancer. The PBOI concluded that aspartame does not cause brain damage, however, it recommended against approving aspartame at that time, citing unanswered questions about cancer in laboratory rats found during safety testing.

The Bressler Report (provided to and initiated by the FDA in 1977) compared all the available data against the manufacturer's FDA submission and found missing raw data, errors and discrepancies in available data, but the FDA chose to ignore Bressler's report. At that point in time, there was no requirement in place in FDA regulations to include brain research in the approval process, only cancer research.

Donald Rumsfeld, who was at the time Searle's Chief Operating Officer, reapplied for FDA certification immediately after U.S. President Ronald Reagan took office. In 1981, the FDA approved aspartame for use in dry goods. In 1983, the FDA further approved aspartame for use in carbonated beverages, and for use in other beverages, baked goods, and confections in 1993. In 1996, the FDA removed all restrictions from aspartame allowing it to be used in all foods.

Several European Union (EU) countries approved aspartame in the 1980s, with EU-wide approval in 1994. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Food reaffirmed approval in 2002.


Aspartame, since its introduction, has been subject to public scrutiny regarding its safety and its approval by the FDA and by the UK's European Commission Scientific Committee on Food. Many studies have recommended further investigation into the possible connection between aspartame and many diseases, such as brain tumors, brain lesions, and different types of cancers. These findings, along with alleged conflicts of interests in the approval process, have thrown up flags with activists regarding the possible risks of aspartame.

Some critics of aspartame have expressed concerns about its approval by the FDA. The head of the FDA who had refused to approve the use of aspartame due to studies showing a link to cancer in rats, Jere E. Goyan, was removed from his post the first day of Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1981. Reagan appointed Arthur Hull Hayes as FDA commissioner in April of 1981 and aspartame was approved as a food additive by the FDA later that year, against the PBOI's recommendation. In 1983, Hayes quit the FDA and joined Searle's PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, as a senior medical advisor (Searle was the company that discovered aspartame).

Conflicts of interest also arose with aspartame, especially regarding studies on the safety of aspartame. When looking at 166 studies of aspartame in peer reviewed medical literature, it was found that 74 studies had Nurtasweet related funding and 92 were independently funded. All of the industry funded studies found aspartame to be safe, while 85 out of the 92 independently funded studies identified problems with aspartame's safety regarding human consumption.

Health Concerns

Studies have found several possible connections between aspartame and a variety of human illnesses and ailments, including but not limited to:

  • Brain Lesions
  • Brain Tumors
  • Lymphoma
  • Grand Mal Seizures
  • Weight Gain
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Birth Defects
  • Migraine Headaches


External links

Mission Possible World Health International

Relevant discussion threads on

Why is Aspartame still on the market?
FDA says unmoved by Italian report linking aspartame to Cancer
'What is Really IN Our Food ?' By ProTo Fire Fox

posted on Sep, 16 2011 @ 01:52 AM

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