Quoted from The Hundred Year Lie:
For many people the discovery of dangers associated with artificial sweeteners, those chemicals that trick our bodies into believing that we have consumed sugar, will only arise as a consequence of personal suffering. Paula Baillie-Hamilton noticed how over time the diet sodas she was consuming altered her moods and gave her headaches. “I only stopped drinking diet sodas after hearing reports that not only had the artificial sweeteners in these drinks been shown to cause headaches and an agitated state like intoxication, exactly the symptoms I had previously experienced, but they had also been shown to cause brain, liver, lung, kidney, and lymphoreticular cancer.”
Aspartame is the most common sweetening additive in more than one hundred diet and sugar-free products, ending up in soft drinks, cereals, frozen desserts, and tabletop sweeteners. It can also be found in such seemingly unlikely places as multivitamins, supplements, and pharmaceutical drugs. It contains three major components–methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid. All three chemicals individually have been shown to either stimulate brain cells to death, upset hormone balances in the brain, or act as a nerve poison. The synergistic effects of these three chemical components on health are largely unknown.
The Canadian authors of Hard To Swallow: The Truth About Food Additives describe what happens when a diet drink containing aspartae is stored at a temperature of 85 degrees for a week or more: “There is no aspartame left in the soft drinks, just the components it breaks down into, like formaldehyde [a known carcinogen], formic acid, and diketopiperazine, a chemical which can cause brain tumours. All of these substances are known to be toxic to humans.”
It took sixteen years for the FDA to finally approve the use of aspartame, because many of the animal studies testing its safety had produced a disturbing pattern of brain tumors. In 1980 an FDA Board of Inuiry voted unanimously against approving aspartame for human consumption. A year later the commissioner of the FDA, Arthur Hull Hayes Jr., overruled his agency’s own scientists and approved aspartame for use in dry food products. He approved its use in carbonated beverages in 1983. Soon thereafter Hayes left the FDA and went to work for G.D. Searle & Company, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures aspartame. (Searle has since become part of Monsanto.)
Over the next two years, after aspartame was added to soft drinks, Professor J. W. Olney of the Washington University in Saint Louis School of Medicine found that the incidence of brain cancer among U.S. citizens increased by 10 percent on average, representing about 1,500 new cases a year. For persons over age sixty-five, the increases in brain cancer rates were an astounding 60 percent or more. Olney was intrigued by the coincidence that studies of aspartame on lab animals had also found sharp increases in brain cancer, so he began conducting research and published as series of papers in The New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere outlining how aspartame may cause brain damage in children.
Warnings about the toxicity of aspartame were issued in 1991 by the National Institutes of Health, which catalogued 167 adverse effects; in 1992 by the U.S. Air Force in a warning to its pilots not to fly after ingesting aspartame; and in 1994 by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which detailed eighty-eight documented symptoms of aspartame toxicity. Here is a partial list of diseases thought to be exacerbated or triggered by this additive: birth defects, depression, mental retardation, chronic fatigue syndrome, brain tumors, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Yet, this chemical toxin, once listed by the Pentagon as a prospective biochemical warfare weapon, remains widespread as an additive throughout the U.S. food supply and that of seventy other nations. It has been banned in Japan and a few other countries. What is the secret to its survival? British toxins expert Paula Baillie-Hamilton is blunt in her assessment. “Few incentives are as powerful as cold, hard cash.” The manufacturers make so much money and exercise so much political influence, in her view, that the regulatory system has been manipulated and compromised.
Another reason aspartame survives is the fog of confusion caused by conflicting results from scientific studies of aspartame’s health risks. Studies conducted by G.D. Searle, Monsanto, and other industry labs tend to declare aspartame safe, while studies conducted by independent scientists usually find it a danger to health. Ralph Walton, chairman of the Center for Behavioral Medicine at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, did a comparative survey of these conflicting studies and found that eighty-three separate experiments over several decades–none funded by the aspartame industry–uncovered significant health effects caused by the use of this synthetic sweetener.
Other artificial sweeteners introduced after aspartame do little to allay the health concerns about this class of synthetics. In 1988 the FDA approved acesulfame K, a synthetic two hundred times sweeter than sugar. It now appears in carbonated drinks, desserts, salad dressings, chewing gum, bakery mixes, and breath fresheners. In some experiments laboratory rats given acesulfame K have developed leukemia, tumors, and respiratory diseases. Aspartame is often combined with acesulfame K in products to mask bitterness, yet no studies are known to have been conducted on the synergistic effects in the body of combining these two additives.
A cruel irony underlying this saga is how these artificial sweeteners, commonly taken to lose weight, may actually become fat enhancers once absorbed by the human body. An American Cancer Association study tracking eighty thousand women for six years concluded, “Amongst women who gained weight, artificial sweetener users gained more than those who did not use the products.” One reason may be that the synthetic chemicals affect hormone levels, this undermining our own natural weight control systems by slowing metabolism and increasing appetite.
The Hundred-Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald, pg. 106-108.