posted on Feb, 7 2011 @ 05:47 PM
There's a much bigger danger than taking too much aspartame in food and that is taking too much sugar.
Excess consumption of carbohydrates, including sugar, increases the incidence of obesity. This is a major contributor to the incidence of diabetes and
other serious diseases including cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately around 20 million Americans have diabetes (probably more are obese) and it
leads to a wide variety of other conditions including heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, depression and skin problems.
It also one of the big killers, with diabetes being involved in the deaths of over 200,000 people a year in the US (many people do not die of one
thing alone but when trying to treat one problem they die because their treatment options are limited by other contributing diseases -- ask anyone who
works in a hospital what actually happens when people die!).
Now apparently it isn't totally clear whether sugar itself kills people (except I think when hyperglycemia leads to untreated diabetic coma). It may
not even be clear if it is obesity that kills or the lack of exercise associated with it that is more deadly. And furthermore, there isn't a great
deal of evidence that better diet alone reduces the death rate. There is however substantial evidence that lack of exercise in combination with poor
nutrition does significantly increase the death rate.
So, with all those caveats, it is clear that excess consumption of sugar does indirectly lead to the deaths of many people.
What there isn't evidence for is aspartame consumed at normal levels significantly increasing the incidence of serious disease.
There are numerous differences between anecdotal evidence (what we're getting in this thread) and the evidence coming from large scale scientific
* Large scientific studies work with sample sizes of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people. The results are statistically significant and
therefore meaningful. Anecdotal evidence is limited to one or two or a handful of people's personal anecdotes or stories. This sort of information is
not statistically significant.
* The large scale scientific studies attempt to control for other effects, such as selection bias, preexisting health conditions, known contributors
to serious disease, genetic and racial factors, and many other biases.
* In large scale studies the participants don't generally know that the study is looking for the effect of aspartame or sugar on their health, thus
the placebo effect and other psychosomatic effects can be eliminated. Anecdotes to the effect that "I was feeling ill and stopped taking aspartame
and all of a sudden I am better" are suspect due to the fact that the person may have believed they would get better. The placebo effect is extremely
strong! (It is also possible that something else, e.g. caffeine or colourings or acids or other additives in the drinks they cut out was adversely
affecting them, or that their consumption levels were really excessive).
Having said all that, there are some known health effects from *excessive* consumption of aspartame. To put this in balance, excessive consumption of
water can kill you -- even purified water. Excessive consumption of food can kill you. Excessive consumption of red meat is believed to be very bad
for you, same for white bread and a multitude of other things.
I understand that the caffeine in many diet sodas has a much more severe effect on your health than the aspartame, and caffeine really tastes
disgusting, whereas aspartame is sweet tasting. You can buy pure caffeine and aspartame in powdered form over the internet and taste them and you'll
see where the nasty taste comes from in many drinks.
Personally, I drink caffeine free diet soda. Every time you drink a soda sweetened with sugar, that's 150 calories you don't need. Diet soda
eliminates that. I've been drinking caffeine free diet coke very regularly for years and so far no serious health effects (caffeine on the other hand
does cause me severe pain in my gut). I'm sure there are healthier things to drink, and the acids in diet soda don't do my teeth any favours. But
so far I've stabilised my weight and don't have diabetes. The water where I live is basically treated sewerage and I just find bottled water to be
disgusting (probably comes from the tap anyway -- why should I pay for that!).
Find me a better drink and I'll drink it. But the science tells me I don't have as much to fear from aspartame as I do from sugar. It's also been
reported that when people try to judge whether they have had enough calories or not, taking calories in drinks don't register with the body in the
same way as with food. The body kind of mentally adds up the calories taken in food and knows when it has had enough. But it virtually ignores any
extra calories that might be coming in from drinks. Unfortunately those extra calories still get converted to fat just like the calories coming from
Anyhow, people telling me that they personally think aspartame is poison because its produced in a chemical factory or because huge doses of it are
carcinogenic in rats (so are huge doses of methanol!) is not going to convince me to stop drinking sodas sweetened with aspartame. I prefer not to die
young of a stroke or heart disease or cancer brought on by obesity which has been brought about by excessive caloric intake.
What makes me laugh really hard is people who believe that aspartame is going to kill them, but they drink, smoke, do little exercise, eat bacon,
refuse to take medicine to control their blood pressure later in life, drive like maniacs, spend a lot of their life angry at other people and
stressed with their work and basically do all of the very things that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt substantially increase the risk of early