Artificial Sweeteners

Aspartame

NutraSweet™ is the trademark name for aspartame. It is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Methanol, which composes 10% of the product, is wood alcohol, an acknowledged deadly poison. The FDA approved aspartame for food use in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. Independent researchers had such concern about the safety of aspartame that it influenced Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, Director of the Food Science and Nutrition Laboratory at Arizona State University, to file suit with the FDA. He went on to comment that “it’s not fair that you are leaving the full burden of proof on the few of us who are concerned and have such limited resources. You must remember that you are the American public’s last defense. Once you allow usage of aspartame, there is literally nothing I or my colleagues can do to reverse the course. Aspartame will then join saccharin, the sulfating agents, and God knows how many other questionable compounds enjoined to insult the human constitution with governmental approval.” Following is a list of the growing evidence that aspartame is not a beneficial substance and consumption of it should be avoided.

  • The methanol in aspartame breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. It is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication, and causes birth defects.[1],[2],[3]
  • Formaldehyde causes gradual and eventually severe damage to the neurological system and immune system and causes permanent genetic damage at extremely low doses.
  • The excitatory amino acids, aspartate and phenylalanine, which are immediately released from aspartame, increase the damage caused by formaldehyde.
  • While it has been stated by the manufacturer of aspartame that alcoholic beverages and fruit juices contain methanol, it is important to realize that the methanol from alcoholic beverages and from fruit and juices does not convert to formaldehyde and cause damage because there are protective chemicals in these traditionally ingested beverages.
  • The formic acid produced from the metabolism of methanol in aspartame may constitute a hitherto unappreciated toxicological hazard, as the acid is an inhibitor of oxygen metabolism. The formic acid produced from aspartame may accumulate in the brain, kidneys, spinal fluid, and other organs because of the slow excretion from the body.[4]
  • It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain, even in people who do not have phenylketonuria (PKU).Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression and insomnia.
  • Numerous warnings about aspartame dangers have appeared in piloting journals. These journals have particularly cited the potential of aspartame to induce grand mal seizures. Additionally, both the U.S. Air Force’s magazine, Flying Safety, and the U.S. Navy’s magazine, Navy Physiology, published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame, including the cumulative deleterious effects of methanol and the greater likelihood of birth defects. The articles note that the ingestion of aspartame may make pilots more susceptible to seizures and vertigo.
  • 99% of independent research identifies one of more problems with aspartame.[5]
  • In 1995 the FDA stopped reporting toxicity reactions from aspartame; up to that time over 75% of the toxic reactions to food additives reported to the FDA concerned aspartame. It is estimated from this number of toxic reactions that there have been approximately 1.9 million recognized aspartame toxicity reactions. Additionally, one researcher believes that there are at least 7.6 million others who are suffering from some symptoms related to aspartame use and do not recognize the connection. The following is a sampling of the over 90 different adverse health effects reported by those consuming aspartame: decreased vision, tinnitus, hearing impairment, headaches, dizziness, unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss, convulsions, severe tremors, hyperactivity, depression, anxiety attacks, severe insomnia, palpitations, shortness of breath, hypertension, nausea, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and severe joint pains.
  • According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting aspartame: brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Sucralose

Splenda™, the brand name for the sugar-derivative sucralose, is claimed to be converted from cane sugar to a no-calorie sweetener. Further claims are that sucralose is not recognized as sugar by the body and therefore is not metabolized. Splenda is marketed as a “healthful” and “natural” product since it is derived from sugar. However, its chemical structure is very different from that of sugar, and sucralose is actually a chemical substance. Sucralose was discovered in 1976 by researchers working under the auspices of Tate & Lyle Ltd., a large British sugar refiner. Sucralose is made form sucrose by substituting three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups to yield 1,6-dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-BETA-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-alpha-D-galactopyranoside. The manufacturer of Splenda™ has patented several chemical processes for making the chlorinated chemical compound it calls sucralose. The patent literature illustrates that sucralose can be chemically manufactured from starting materials that do not require natural sugar. In one patent, for example, the manufacturer constructs sucralose from raffinose by substituting atoms of chlorine for hydroxyl groups in raffinose. Raffinose is a molecule found naturally in beans and onions and other plants, but unlike natural sucrose, it has very little taste. In another patented process, three atoms of chlorine are substituted for three hydroxyl groups in sucrose. The end product of both of these manufacturing processes is an entirely new chlorocarbon chemical called sucralose. Each molecule of sucralose contains three atoms of chlorine, which makes it 600 times sweeter than a natural molecule of sugar, which contains no chlorine.[6]

  • Sucralose, like aspartame and hydrogenated fats, is an artificial substance that is not found in nature. Although supporters of sucralose claim that it is unable to be metabolized, up to 35% is absorbed by the body with a half-life up to 23 hours.[7]
  • Pre-approval tests indicated potential toxicity for sucralose.7 One study demonstrated that thymus weight decreased by up to 40% in rats fed diets rich in sucralose, indicating that sucralose has the potential to compromise the immune system.[8] Note that the FDA also addressed this (and other) toxicity concerns in their Final Rule, claiming that these negative effects would not be seen in humans at recommended doses.
  • Sucralose is a chlorinated compound. Other classes of chlorinated molecules include pesticides.7
  • There are no independent, controlled human studies on sucralose. The bulk of the safety research has been conducted by the manufacturer.7
  • There are no long-term (>13 months) human studies of sucralose’s effects and no long history of use.7

References

1 Gold MD. “The bitter truth about artificial sweeteners.” 30 April 1998. Online posting.

[2] “Formaldehyde poisoning from aspartame.” Online posting. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) Toxicity Information Center. America On Line, 30 April, 1998.

[3] “Chronic methanol/formaldehyde poisoning from aspartame.” Online posting. Holisticmed.com.  America OnLine, 30 April, 1998.

[4] “Reported aspartame toxicity effects.” Online posting, Holisticmed.com.  America OnLine 30 April, 1998.

[5] “Analysis shows nearly 100% of independent research finds problems with aspartame.” 17 October, 1996. Online posting. Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Information Center. America OnLine, 30 April, 1998.

[6] FDA/CFSAN Federal Register 64 FR 16417 April 3, 1998—Final Rule: Sucralose.

[7] Sucralose Toxicity Information Center. http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/.

[8] New Scientist, 23 November 1991, volume 132, page 13.