NutraSweet, Equal (Aspartame)
According to Hersey, the Food & Drug Administration has received thousands of reports of adverse reactions to aspartame (NutraSweet) since its approval in 1981. (It stopped collecting these reports in early 1996.) The Feingold Association has also received many negative reports, leading it to add aspartame to the list of additives eliminated on the Feingold Program in 2004.
Aspartame, which is 200 times as sweet as sugar, is the most profitable synthetic sweetener ever used. It is estimated that over 100 million people in the United States, including a large percentage of children and adolescents, drink aspartame-sweetened drinks on a regular basis. It is also used in low-calorie foods, pediatric medicine, and other products.
"Unfortunately, some parents try to help their kids lose weight by giving them sugar-free foods and diet sodas that are sweetened with aspartame," says Hersey. "This is a huge mistake, because aspartame has been associated with hyperactivity, irritability, aggression, and concentration problems - not to mention brain tumors."
Aspartame has a long list of critics, including government scientists. After investigating the industry-funded studies, FDA toxicologist Dr. M. Adrian Gross found that at least one of them "established beyond any reasonable doubt that aspartame is capable of inducing brain tumors in experimental animals." According to Dr. Russell Blaylock, a board-certified neurosurgeon, the first safety study of aspartame produced a rate of brain tumors in the aspartame-fed rats that was 25 times higher than would be expected to occur naturally.
The studies on aspartame were so fraught with irregularities that the FDA Chief Counsel recommended a grand jury be convened to investigate them (the first such request in the agency's history), and a public board of inquiry found they were inadequate on the issue of brain tumors. Three FDA scientists called the studies into question just weeks before a new FDA commisioner approved NutraSweet in 1981. The irregularities included surgery to remove tumors from the test animals and failure to determine if they were cancerous.
From 1973 to 1990, there was a 67 percent increase in brain tumors in people over 65, with a 10 percent increase in all age groups. (The greatest increase started four years after aspartame's approval - in 1985, 1986 and 1987.)
Aspartame is made of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine, as well as methanol, also known as wood alcohol. Products that contain aspartame are required to include a caution for people who cannot tolerate phenylalanine. According to Hersey, some manufacturers hide aspartame in foods, supplements, and medicines by simply saying "contains phenylalanine."
The most frequent complaint attributed to aspartame use is migraine headaches.
Tell your Doctor if you use aspartame.
I used NutraSweet for years before I began using Splenda. However, my beverage of choice for the last year has been Crystal Light Green Tea which contains Aspartame. I have chronic muscle and joint pain, insomnia, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome which for which Iíve spent thousands of dollars in search of a cure!! NO ONE asked about Aspartame which has been in my system for at least a decade. Iíll be testing this information.
Thank you so much for all your reports.