It was once on a Pentagon list of bio-warfare chemicals submitted to Congress - now it's found in over 6,000 products...sold in 100 countries...and consumed by 250 million people worldwide...including you.
It's the artificial sweetener aspartame that graces the ingredient list of scores of sugar-free products: Equal®, NutraSweet®, diet soda, chewing gum, breakfast cereal, yogurt, frozen desserts, and even chewable vitamins, to name a few.
Considering that it earned a spot on the bio-warfare chemical list, you might be wondering why the FDA approved aspartame as a sweetener in the first place.
Well, initially it didn't. Flawed data...brain tumor findings in animal studies...and the lack of studies on humans to determine longer-term effects were more than enough reason for the FDA to hesitate releasing aspartame on an unsuspecting public.
But G.D. Searle - the producer of aspartame - spent tens of millions of its own dollars to conduct the necessary approval tests on aspartame. Unlike the independent studies that had no stake in the product, Searle's studies unsurprisingly found no adverse health effects.
That's when Donald Rumsfeld - the CEO of Searle and part of Reagan's transition team - got involved. Despite the legitimate concerns and the obvious neurotoxicity of the substance, aspartame was successfully pushed through to market in 1983.
A Chemistry Lesson
Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.
This combination of chemicals is 180 times sweeter than sugar - and a thousand times more dangerous.
Take a close look at them, and you'll see what I mean ...
The aspartic acid in aspartame is an "excitotoxin." What it does is kill certain neurons in your brain by triggering excessive amounts of free radicals. So it basically "excites" or stimulates the neural cells to death.
The problem is...75% or more of the neural cells in a particular part of your brain have to be killed before you notice any symptoms. And then it's too late.
Here are just a few of the chronic illnesses that have been linked to long-term exposure to excitotoxins:
-Multiple sclerosis (MS)
-And memory loss.
-The risk of harm from excitotoxins like aspartic acid is greater to infants...children...pregnant women...and the elderly.
The second chemical in aspartame - phenylalanine - is an amino acid normally found in the brain. So you would think that this substance would be perfectly safe to consume.
But when you ingest aspartame - especially along with carbohydrates - it can lead to excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain - causing levels of serotonin to decrease and triggering emotional disorders, such as depression.
Methanol (Wood Alcohol):
The methanol in aspartame is a deadly poison, no two ways about it.
When it enters your body, it breaks down into formaldehyde, which is extremely toxic.
Just think about it...formaldehyde is used for embalming fluid. So when the methanol in aspartame converts to formaldehyde in your body, it actually "embalms" your living tissue - and damages your DNA as a result.
This deadly neurotoxin causes gradual and eventually severe damage to your entire neurological and immune system and can cause permanent genetic damage at extremely low doses.
Both the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have classified formaldehyde as human carcinogen.
And clinical studies confirm their decision ...
A 1998 study published in Life Sciences showed that formaldehyde accumulates and remains in body. The researchers concluded that the regular intake of aspartame may result in the progressive accumulation of formaldehyde in your liver, tissues, muscles, brain, cornea and retina - and result in damage to DNA that may eventually produce cell death and mutations.
In a May 2009 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers reported a 37% increased risk of dying from cancers of the blood and lymphatic system - like lymphoma and leukemia - for workers exposed to formaldehyde vapors.
In 2005, the renowned Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences reported a three-year study on 1,800 lab rats found that aspartame causes significant increases in lymphomas/leukemias - even at dose levels currently considered acceptable for humans. They verified their findings with a second study in 2007 - where rats developed so much formaldehyde in their bodies from aspartame consumption that their skin turned yellow.
Their conclusion: The formation of formaldehyde could be the link between aspartame and lymphoma and leukemia.
Because of its obvious neurotoxicity, the EPA recommends you limit your consumption of formaldehyde-producing methanol to 7.8 mg/day.
The problem is this...a one-liter aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. And heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily - or 32 times the EPA limit.
Aspartame's Effect on Your Health
There are over 900 published studies on the health hazards of aspartame in the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
It's been found that this toxic cocktail can lead to a wide variety of ailments with long-term use, including ...
-Diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue
-Emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks
-Hearing Loss and ringing in the ears
-Blindness, blurred vision and other eye problems
But short-term use can lead to some problems for you as well.
There have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined - a whopping 80-85% of all food complaints. Less than a year after aspartame was granted approval, the FDA had recorded 600 consumer complaints.
As of 1995, when the FDA stopped accepting aspartame toxicity reaction reports, there were around 10,000 documented reports of adverse reactions to aspartame, including death. Since it's estimated that only about 1% of people who experience a reaction report it, it's safe to assume that at least one million people have had some kind of reaction to this chemical.
Migraines are the most frequently reported problem. Other commonly reported symptoms of an aspartame reaction include:
-Change in vision Convulsions and seizures
-Sleep problems/insomnia Change in heart rate
-Hallucination Abdominal cramps/pain
-Memory loss Rash
-Nausea and vomiting Fatigue and weakness
-Dizziness and poor equilibrium Diarrhea
-Hives Joint pain
How to Tell if You're Having An Adverse Reaction to Aspartame
If you're experiencing any of the health issues listed above, you might be having an adverse reaction to aspartame.
Here's how to find out for sure...
Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for one to two weeks. If you commonly consume aspartame in caffeinated drinks, do it gradually to avoid unpleasant caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
After one to two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, start consuming significant quantities of aspartame again - at least three servings a day.
Pay attention to how you feel over the next one to three days - especially comparing your health to when you weren't eating artificial sweeteners. If you don't notice any difference in how you feel, you probably are not having an aspartame reaction.
The thing is this...just because you can tolerate aspartame for now without any problem does NOT mean your health won't be damaged in the long term by this substance.
For your health and the health of the ones you love, try to reduce the amounts of aspartame consumption - and substitute a more natural, safer alternative like stevia for your sugar-free needs. Your body will be glad you did!