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What’s the real deal on aspartame? Anyone have real information? Every site I find on the internet seems to be filled with contradictory information.

Is it bad for me? Is it worse than sugar? Is it neutral?

Trying to cut out sugar is hard enough without this. Anyone have information?

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  • 1 month later...

A systematic review (the gold standard of medical research) about aspartame was published last week in Critical Reviews in Toxicology. The authors reviewed hundreds of studies published since 1980 and found no scientifically credible support for the charge that the artificial sweetener is related to human cancers, despite widespread common misconception that it is. While aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) has been linked to bladder problems in lab rats, there is no credible evidence that it causes cancer in humans (completely different bio-mechanism). [The study only examined aspartame, not sucralose (Splenda), so there is no comment on it.] I can email the pdf of the article to anyone who is interested, although it is massive (100 pages). It is one of the most comprehensive studies of its type ever produced.

Also, it's not in this paper, but I looked into this a few years ago when a friend asked and the supposed worst culprit in artificial sweeteners - saccharin - was once again made available for human consumption in 2000 when the FDA delisted it as a carcinogen as it was found to unrelated to human cancers.

The problem with this sort of situation is that once the idea is out there that something is harmful, its virtually impossible to change public (mis)understanding.

So, according to the most up to date medical opinion, aspartame is not carcinogenic.

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  • 2 weeks later...

interesing video. i had no idea rumsfeld was involved. i'd be interested in knowing when the video was made, because studies on the effect of aspartame on brain neurotransmitters were actually published as early as 1986, and although most found no problems, at least one indicates increased levels of serotonin in mice, and flagged greater potential problems with developing brains (ie., baby mice). the human corollary, i guess - don't feed your kids artifical sweeteners or you may turn them into e-heads.

the recent systematic review I noted looked at the relationship between aspartame and incidence of cancers, and did not explore effects on the brain in any great detail.

who knows, maybe rumsfeld is involved more than we think and aspartame is indeed part of an evil plot that is turning people into conservatives. ;)

thanks for the vid, starhead.

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interesting link, MOBE, and its typical of the sort of pseudo-science that I alluded to earlier.

the Soffritti study discussed in your link actually receives a great deal of attention in the systematic review I noted, as it is often held out as the strongest evidence that aspartame causes cancer and was reported as "proof" by media worldwide when released.

The European Food Safety Authority and the US National Toxicology Program requested study documents and original data from Soffritti and performed replication studies. The EFSA determined that Soffritti's study methodology was highly flawed (no randomized trials, use of non-standardized rats, no control for diet or natural age-related tumours, sloppy dose administration, lack of acceptable experimental animal cancer control); his statistical analysis was simply incorrect, and/or he reported unsubstantiated conclusions, and; he over-estimated his measures of cancerous cells. Soffritti then published a follow-up study which inexplicably offered different conclusions from his first yet was supposedly based on the same data. Soffritti also offered theories of government conspiracies in the regulation of aspartame, which reviewers found to be unscientific and dubious. The financing of Soffritti's research has also been questioned.

Consensus among the EFSA, NTP, the US National Institute of Cancer as well as boards from various other national cancer agencies concluded that the Soffritti study is very problematic, could not be replicated, and offers highly disputable conclusions. In other words, take it with a grain of salt.

This is why full systematic reviews of all evidence are necessary. For every Soffritti study, there are hundreds that provide opposite findings. But, hey, word got out that aspartame causes cancer ...

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Splenda reminds me of that stuff that they fill those c-shaped airplane pillows with.. just picking up a bag of that stuff and realizing it weighs less than a grape is reason enough for me to think it's waaay bad. If you're that concerned about your sugar intake, take it back. Don't look for chemical alternatives.

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  • 1 month later...
what did the article say?

It was an interview with Devra Davis, a cancer researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. Just google her name and you'll see all kinds of info on her research. The interview itself is on salon.com, but you have to sign up to see it and I don't have time to do that right now.

Interesting point she makes in the interview, when talking about using lab rats for cancer research. Pharmacuetical companies use lab rats to invent drugs, but when researchers found aspartame to cause cancer in rats, everyone was all "oh it only causes cancer in rats drinking 800 cans of soda a day". She said that was spun by the company that developed aspartame. Studies finding that aspartame is bad for us were suppressed by the Reagan administration.

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