Aspartame's Hidden Dangers


Aspartame's Hidden Dangers

If a product is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and composed of natural ingredients, would you assume it is safe to consume?

If the same product is an artificial sweetener, would you assume it helps control your weight?

Millions of people use aspartame, the artificial sweetener known as NutraSweet™, with these assumptions in mind.

Aspartame can be found in thousands of products such as:

  • instant breakfasts
  • breath mints
  • cereals
  • sugar-free chewing gum
  • cocoa mixes
  • coffee beverages
  • frozen desserts
  • gelatin desserts
  • juice beverages
  • laxatives
  • multivitamins
  • milk drinks
  • pharmaceuticals and supplements, including over-the-counter medicines
  • shake mixes
  • soft drinks
  • tabletop sweeteners
  • tea beverages
  • instant teas and coffees
  • topping mixes
  • wine coolers
  • yogurt

However, aspartame's tainted history of approval and potentially toxic ingredients cast serious doubt on the safety of this sugar substitute. Furthermore, aspartame may actually increase your appetite (Farber 52).

While the FDA approval may signal the green light for safe consumption, 85 percent of all complaints registered with the FDA are for adverse reactions to aspartame, including five reported deaths. A closer look at the unscientific studies, suspicious approval methods, and its harmful ingredients, reveal the hidden dangers of this artificial sweetener. In reality, aspartame poses a public health threat.

Ailments Resulting From Aspartame

The components of aspartame can lead to a wide variety of ailments. Some of these problems occur gradually while others are immediate, acute reactions.

A few of the many disorders associated with aspartame include the following:

  • Birth Defects

A study funded by Monsanto to study possible birth defects caused by consuming aspartame was cut off after preliminary data showed damaging information about aspartame. Additionally, in the book, While Waiting: A Prenatal Guidebook, it is stated that aspartame is suspected of causing brain damage in sensitive individuals. A fetus may be at risk for these effects. Some researchers have suggested that high doses of aspartame may be associated with problems ranging from dizziness and subtle brain changes to mental retardation.

  • Cancer (Brain Cancer)

In 1981, an FDA statistician stated that the brain tumor data on aspartame was so "worrisome" that he could not recommend approval of NutraSweet.(14)

In a two-year study conducted by the manufacturer of aspartame, twelve of 320 rats fed a normal diet and aspartame developed brain tumors while none of the control rats developed tumors, and five of the twelve tumors were in rats given a low dose of aspartame.(15)

The approval of aspartame was a violation of the Delaney Amendment, which was supposed to prevent cancer-causing substances such as methanol (formaldehye) and DKP from entering our food supply. A late FDA toxicologist testified before the U.S. Congress that aspartame was capable of producing brain tumors. This made it illegal for the FDA to set an allowable daily intake at any level. He stated in his testimony that Searle's studies were "to a large extent unreliable" and that "at least one of those studies has established beyond any reasonable doubt that aspartame is capable of inducing brain tumors in experimental animals ... " He concluded his testimony by asking, "What is the reason for the apparent refusal by the FDA to invoke for this food additive the so-called Delaney Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act? ... And if the FDA itself elects to violate the law, who is left to protect the health of the public?"(16)

In the mid-1970s it was discovered that the manufacturer of aspartame falsified studies in several ways. One of the techniques used was to cut tumors out of test animals and put them back in the study. Another technique used to falsify the studies was to list animals that had actually died as surviving the study. Thus, the data on brain tumors was likely worse than discussed above. In addition, a former employee of the manufacturer of aspartame told the FDA on July 13, 1977 that the particles of DKP were so large that the rats could discriminate between the DKP and their normal diet.(12)

  • Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is actually recommending this chemical poison to persons with diabetes, but according to research conducted by a diabetes specialist, aspartame: 1) Leads to the precipitation of clinical diabetes. 2) Causes poorer diabetic control in diabetics on insulin or oral drugs. 3) Leads to the aggravation of diabetic complications such as retinopathy, cataracts, neuropathy and gastroparesis. 4) Causes convulsions.

In a statement concerning the use of products containing aspartame by persons with diabetes and hypoglycemia, the researchers says:

"Unfortunately, many patients in my practice, and others seen in consultation, developed serious metabolic, neurologic and other complications that could be specifically attributed to using aspartame products. This was evidenced by the loss of diabetic control, the intensification of hypoglycemia, the occurrence of presumed 'insulin reactions' (including convulsions) that proved to be aspartame reactions, and the precipitation, aggravation or simulation of diabetic complications (especially impaired vision and neuropathy) while using these products ... Dramatic improvement of such features after avoiding aspartame, and the prompt predictable recurrence of these problems when the patient resumed aspartame products, knowingly or inadvertently."

Another researcher stated that excitotoxins such as those found in aspartame can precipitate diabetes in persons who are genetically susceptible to the disease.(5)

  • Emotional Disorders

In a double blind study of the effects of aspartame on persons with mood disorders, findings showed a large increase in serious symptoms for persons taking aspartame. Since some of the symptoms were so serious, the Institutional Review Board had to stop the study. Three of the participants had said that they had been "poisoned" by aspartame. Researchers concluded that "individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener; its use in this population should be discouraged."(18) One researcher stated about aspartame, "I know it causes seizures. I'm convinced also that it definitely causes behavioral changes. I'm very angry that this substance is on the market. I personally question the reliability and validity of any studies funded by the NutraSweet Company."(19)

Additionally, there are numerous reported cases of low brain serotonin levels, depression and other emotional disorders that have been linked to aspartame and often are relieved by stopping the intake of aspartame.

  • Epilepsy/Seizures

With the large and growing number of seizures caused by aspartame, it is sad to see that the Epilepsy Foundation is promoting the "safety" of aspartame. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 80 people who had suffered seizures after ingesting aspartame were surveyed. Community Nutrition Institute concluded the following about the survey:

"These 80 cases meet the FDA's own definition of an imminent hazard to the public health, which requires the FDA to expeditiously remove a product from the market."

Both the Air Force's magazine, Flying Safety, and the Navy's magazine, Navy Physiology, published articles warning about the many dangers of aspartame including the cumulative delirious effects of methanol and the greater likelihood of birth defects. The articles note that the ingestion of aspartame can make pilots more susceptible to seizures and vertigo. Twenty articles sounding warnings about ingesting aspartame while flying have also appeared in the National Business Aircraft Association Digest (NBAA Digest 1993), Aviation Medical Bulletin (1988), The Aviation Consumer (1988), Canadian General Aviation News (1990), Pacific Flyer (1988), General Aviation News (1989), Aviation Safety Digest (1989), and Plane & Pilot (1990) and a paper warning about aspartame was presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Aerospace Medical Association (Gaffney 1986).

A hotline was even set up for pilots suffering from acute reactions to aspartame ingestion. Over 600 pilots have reported symptoms including some who have reported suffering grand mal seizures in the cockpit due to aspartame.(21)

Why don't we hear about these things?

The reason many people do not hear about serious reactions to aspartame is twofold: 1) Lack of awareness by the general population. Aspartame-caused diseases are not reported in the newspapers like plane crashes. This is because these incidents occur one at a time in thousands of different locations across the United States. 2) Most people do not associate their symptoms with the long-term use of aspartame. For the people who have killed a significant percentage of their brain cells and thereby caused a chronic illness, there is no way that they would normally associate such an illness with aspartame consumption.

How aspartame was approved is a lesson in how chemical and pharmaceutical companies can manipulate government agencies such as the FDA, "bribe" organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, and flood the scientific community with flawed and fraudulent industry-sponsored studies funded by the makers of aspartame.

Erik Millstone, a researcher at the Science Policy Research Unit of Sussex University has compiled thousands of pages of evidence, some of which have been obtained using the freedom of information act 23, showing: 1. Laboratory tests were faked and dangers were concealed. 2. Tumors were removed from animals and animals that had died were "restored to life" in laboratory records. 3. False and misleading statements were made to the FDA. 4. The two US Attorneys given the task of bringing fraud charges against the aspartame manufacturer took positions with the manufacturer's law firm, letting the statute of limitations run out. 5. The Commissioner of the FDA overruled the objections of the FDA's own scientific board of inquiry. Shortly after that decision, he took a position with Burson-Marsteller, the firm in charge of public relations for G.D. Searle.

A Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) was conducted in 1980. There were three scientists who reviewed the objections of Olney and Turner to the approval of aspartame. They voted unanimously against aspartame's approval. The FDA Commissioner, Dr Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. then created a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the PBOI findings. After it became clear that the Commission would uphold the PBOI's decision by a vote of 3 to 2, another person was added to the Commission, creating a deadlocked vote. This allowed the FDA Commissioner to break the deadlock and approve aspartame for dry goods in 1981. Dr Jacqueline Verrett, the Senior Scientist in an FDA Bureau of Foods review team created in August 1977 to review the Bressler Report (a report that detailed G.D. Searle's abuses during the pre-approval testing) said: "It was pretty obvious that somewhere along the line, the bureau officials were working up to a whitewash." In 1987, Verrett testified before the US Senate stating that the experiments conducted by Searle were a "disaster." She stated that her team was instructed not to comment on or be concerned with the overall validity of the studies. She stated that questions about birth defects have not been answered. She continued her testimony by discussing the fact that DKP has been shown to increase uterine polyps and change blood cholesterol and that increasing the temperature of the product leads to an increase in production of DKP.(13)

Revolving Doors

The FDA and the manufacturers of aspartame have had a revolving door of employment for many years. In addition to the FDA Commissioner and two US Attorneys leaving to take positions with companies connected with G.D. Searle, four other FDA officials connected with the approval of aspartame took positions connected with the NutraSweet industry between 1979 and 1982 including the Deputy FDA Commissioner, the Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner, the Associate Director of the Bureau of Foods and Toxicology and the Attorney involved with the Public Board of Inquiry.(24)

It is important to realize that this type of revolving-door activity has been going on for decades. The Townsend Letter for Doctors (11/92) reported on a study revealing that 37 of 49 top FDA officials who left the FDA took positions with companies they had regulated. They also reported that over 150 FDA officials owned stock in drug companies they were assigned to manage. Many organizations and universities receive large sums of money from companies connected to the NutraSweet Association, a group of companies promoting the use of aspartame. In January 1993, the American Dietetic Association received a US$75,000 grant from the NutraSweet Company. The American Dietetic Association has stated that the NutraSweet Company writes their "Facts" sheets.(25)

What is the FDA doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?

Less than nothing.

In 1992, the FDA approved aspartame for use in malt beverages, breakfast cereals, and refrigerated puddings and fillings. In 1993 the FDA approved aspartame for use in hard and soft candies, non-alcoholic favored beverages, tea beverages, fruit juices and concentrates, baked goods and baking mixes, and frostings, toppings and fillings for baked goods.

In 1991, the FDA banned the importation of stevia. The powder of this leaf has been used for hundreds of years as an alternative sweetener. It is used widely in Japan with no adverse effects. Scientists involved in reviewing stevia have declared it to be safe for human consumption--something that has been well known in many parts of the world where it is not banned. Some people believe that stevia was banned to keep the product from taking hold in the United States and cutting into sales of aspartame.(26)

What is the U.S. Congress doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?


What is the U.S. Administration (President) doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?


Aspartame consumption is not only a problem in the United States--it is being sold in over 70 countries throughout the world.


  ASPARTAME, The Most Dangerous Substance on the Market




Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle's research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson's disease, alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of "chemical poison." As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.

What Is Aspartame Made Of?

Aspartic Acid (40 percent of Aspartame)

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate (MSG) is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.

How Aspartate (and Glutamate) Cause Damage

Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as "excitotoxins." They "excite" or stimulate the neural cells to death.

Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.

The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • ALS
  • Memory loss
  • Hormonal problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Hypoglycemia
  • AIDS
  • Dementia
  • Brain lesions
  • Neuroendocrine disorders

The risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with certain chronic health problems from excitotoxins are great. Even the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which usually understates problems and mimics the FDA party-line, recently stated in a review that:

"It is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children. The existence of evidence of potential endocrine responses, i.e., elevated cortisol and prolactin, and differential responses between males and females, would also suggest a neuroendocrine link and that supplemental L-glutamic acid should be avoided by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders."

Aspartic acid from aspartame has the same deleterious effects on the body as glutamic acid.

The exact mechanism of acute reactions to excess free glutamate and aspartate is currently being debated. As reported to the FDA, those reactions include:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
  • Sleep problems
  • Vision problems
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Depression
  • Asthma/chest tightness.

One common complaint of persons suffering from the effect of aspartame is memory loss. Ironically, in 1987, G.D. Searle, the manufacturer of aspartame, undertook a search for a drug to combat memory loss caused by excitatory amino acid damage. Blaylock is one of many scientists and physicians who are concerned about excitatory amino acid damage caused by ingestion of aspartame and MSG.

A few of the many experts who have spoken out against the damage being caused by aspartate and glutamate include Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist specializing in research design. Another is Olney, a professor in the department of psychiatry, School of Medicine, Washington University, a neuroscientist and researcher, and one of the world's foremost authorities on excitotoxins. (He informed Searle in 1971 that aspartic acid caused holes in the brains of mice.)

Phenylalanine (50 percent of aspartame)

Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.

This is not just a theory, as many people who have eaten large amounts of aspartame over a long period of time and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive levels of phenylalanine in the blood. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of seratonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame.

Even a single use of aspartame raised the blood phenylalanine levels. In his testimony before the U.S. Congress, Dr. Louis J. Elsas showed that high blood phenylalanine can be concentrated in parts of the brain and is especially dangerous for infants and fetuses. He also showed that phenylalanine is metabolised much more effeciently by rodents than by humans.

One account of a case of extremely high phenylalanine levels caused by aspartame was recently published the "Wednesday Journal" in an article titled "An Aspartame Nightmare." John Cook began drinking six to eight diet drinks every day. His symptoms started out as memory loss and frequent headaches. He began to crave more aspartame-sweetened drinks. His condition deteriorated so much that he experienced wide mood swings and violent rages. Even though he did not suffer from PKU, a blood test revealed a phenylalanine level of 80 mg/dl. He also showed abnormal brain function and brain damage. After he kicked his aspartame habit, his symptoms improved dramatically.

As Blaylock points out in his book, early studies measuring phenylalanine buildup in the brain were flawed. Investigators who measured specific brain regions and not the average throughout the brain notice significant rises in phenylalanine levels. Specifically the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, and corpus striatum areas of the brain had the largest increases in phenylalanine. Blaylock goes on to point out that excessive buildup of phenylalanine in the brain can cause schizophrenia or make one more susceptible to seizures.

Therefore, long-term, excessive use of aspartame may provid a boost to sales of seratonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and drugs to control schizophrenia and seizures.


Methanol (aka wood alcohol/poison) (10 percent of aspartame)

Methanol/wood alcohol is a deadly poison. Some people may remember methanol as the poison that has caused some "skid row" alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounter the enzyme chymotrypsin.

The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a "food" product such as Jello).

Methanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol "is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic." They recommend a limit of consumption of 7.8 mg/day. A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit.

Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects.

Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, director of the food science and nutrition laboratory at Arizona State University, "There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol."

He was so concerned about the unresolved safety issues that he filed suit with the FDA requesting a hearing to address these issues. He asked the FDA to "slow down on this soft drink issue long enough to answer some of the important questions. 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 sulfiting agents, and God knows how many other questionable compounds enjoined to insult the human constitution with governmental approval." Shortly thereafter, the Commissioner of the FDA, Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he then left for a position with G.D. Searle's public relations firm.

It has been pointed out that some fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, however, that methanol never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans. The troops of Desert Storm were "treated" to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages, which had been heated to over 86 degrees F in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP (discussed below) may also have been a factor.

In a 1993 act that can only be described as "unconscionable," the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be heated to above 86 degree F (30 degree C).

Diketopiperazine (DKP)

DKP is a byproduct of aspartame metabolism. DKP has been implicated in the occurrence of brain tumors. Olney noticed that DKP, when nitrosated in the gut, produced a compound that was similar to N-nitrosourea, a powerful brain tumor causing chemical. Some authors have said that DKP is produced after aspartame ingestion. I am not sure if that is correct. It is definitely true that DKP is formed in liquid aspartame-containing products during prolonged storage.

G.D. Searle conducted animal experiments on the safety of DKP. The FDA found numerous experimental errors occurred, including "clerical errors, mixed-up animals, animals not getting drugs they were supposed to get, pathological specimens lost because of improper handling," and many other errors. These sloppy laboratory procedures may explain why both the test and control animals had sixteen times more brain tumors than would be expected in experiments of this length.

In an ironic twist, shortly after these experimental errors were discovered, the FDA used guidelines recommended by G.D. Searle to develop the industry-wide FDA standards for good laboratory practices.

DKP has also been implicated as a cause of uterine polyps and changes in blood cholesterol by FDA Toxicologist Dr. Jacqueline Verrett in her testimony before the U.S. Senate.




*** Also see the sucralose/Splenda reviews by Dr. Joseph Mercola at: ***

Splenda, also known as sucralose, is artificial sweetener which is a chlorinated sucrose derivative. Facts about this artificial chemical follows:

  • Pre-Approval Research
    Pre-approval research showed that sucralose caused shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage) and enlarged liver and kidneys. The manufacturer put forth two arguments in an attempt to claim that sucralose is not toxic:

    1. The dose of sucralose in the experiments was high. However, for chemicals that do not have generations of safe use, the dosage tested must be adjusted for variations in potential toxicity within the human population and between humans and rodents. In order to this, toxicologists estimate a variation of effects in the human population of 10 times. In other words, one person may not have effects until a dose of 10 mg per kg of body weight (10 mg/kg) is reached, while another person may have chronic toxicity effects at 1 mg per kg of body weight (1 mg/kg). In addition, it is well known that many chemicals are much more toxic in humans than in rodents (or even monkeys). For example, the chemicals that the sweetener aspartame breaks down into vary from 5 to 50 times more toxic in humans than in rodents. Therefore, toxicologists estimate a further 10 times the dose for differences between human and rodent toxicity for a total of 100 times (10 * 10).

      In order to estimate a potential safe dose in humans, one must divide the lowest dose in given to rodents that was seen to have any negative effects on their thymus glands, liver or kidneys by 100. That dose is then known as the maximum Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for lifetime use. Keep in mind that the TDI is just an estimate. Some chemicals are much more than 10 times more toxic in humans than in rodents (or will cause cancer in humans in low-dose, long-term exposure and do not cause cancer in rodents at all). A person ingesting the TDI for some chemical may find that it causes cancer or immune system or neurological problems after many years or decades of use. So, if the manufacturer claims that the dose was equivalent to 50 diet sodas, then the TDI would be one half (1/2) of a diet soda, and even that dose may or may not be safe.
    2. The manufacturer claimed that the sucralose was unpleasant for the rodents to eat in large doses. They said that starvation caused the shruken thymus glands. From the New Scientist (23 Nov 1991, pg 13):

        [Toxicologist Judith] Bellin reviewed studies on rats starved under experimental conditions, and concluded that their growth rate could be reduced by as much as a third without the thymus losing a significant amount of weight (less than 7 percent). The changes were much more marked in rats fed on sucralose. While the animals' growth rate was reduced by between 7 and 20 percent, their thymuses shrank by as much as 40 percent.
  • Recent Research
    A possible problem with caecal enlargement and renal mineralization has been seen in post approval animal research.
  • Sucralose Breaks Down
    Despite the manufacturer's mis-statements, sucralose does break down into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, a chemical that has not been adequately tested in humans.
  • Independent, Long-Term Human Research
    None. Manufacturer's "100's of studies" (some of which show hazards) were clearly inadequate and do not demonstrate safety in long-term use.
  • Chlorinated Pesticides
    The manufacturer claims that the chlorine added to sucralose is similar to the chlorine atom in the salt (NaCl) molecule. That is not the case. Sucralose may be more like ingesting tiny amounts of chlorinated pesticides, but we will never know without long-term, independent human research.
  • Conclusion
    While it is unlikely that sucralose is as toxic as the poisoning people are experiencing from Monsanto's aspartame, it is clear from the hazards seen in pre-approval research and from its chemical structure that years or decades of use may contribute to serious chronic immunological or neurological disorders.
  • Addendum (October 2, 2000)
    Occasionally, persons emailing ask questions about sucralose research. What follows is a copy of a response one such question. The answer starts by summarizing the aspartame (NutraSweet) issue and then addresses the sucralose issue.

      1. Pre-approval test indicated potential toxicity of sucralose.
      2. There are no *independent* controlled human studies on sucralose (similar to 15 years ago for aspartame).
      3. There are no long-term (12-24 months) human studies of sucralose's effects.
      4. There is no monitoring of health effects. It took government agencies decades to agree that there were countless thousands of deaths from tobacco. Why? Simply because there had been no monitoring or epidemiological studies. Without such monitoring and studies, huge effects can easily go unnoticed.
      • Recent European research showing that ingesting aspartame leads to the accumulation of formaldehyde in the brain, other organs and tissues (Formaldehyde has been shown to damage the nervous system, immune system, and cause irreversible genetic damage in humans.)
      • An extremely large number of toxicity reactions reported to the FDA and other organizations
      • A recent report showing that nearly 100% of independent research has found problems with aspartame.
    • Let me start by saying that, as you may know, there is a quickly growing body of evidence demonstrating the toxicity of aspartame. This includes:

      Why is this relevant to the sucralose question? Similar to the aspartame situation 15 years ago:

      So, without even addressing the pre-approval research showing potential toxicity, it is clear that sucralose has a) no long history (e.g., decades) of safe use, b) no independent monitoring of health effects, c) no long-term human studies, and d) no independent human studies. I would hope that the Precautionary Principle, now commonly used in Europe, would be a guiding force for people who are interested in health. Otherwise, we might as well just use any poorly tested, artificial (lab-created) chemical that has shown potential for long-term toxicity.

      As far as the pre-approval research related to sucralose.... As you probably know, pre-approval research is rarely published. It is only available from the FDA by filing a Freedom of Information Act request. However, you can see a very short summary regarding sucralose and shrunken thymus glands in the "New Scientist" (23 November 1991, page 13).
It is very important that people who have any interest in their health stay aware from the highly toxic sweetener, aspartame and other dangerous sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), and acesulfame-k (Sunette, Sweet & Safe, Sweet One). Instead, please see the extensive resources for sweeteners on the Healthier Sweetener Resource List.
Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects 


Reported Aspartame Toxicity Effects

-------- Q. What are the reported reactions to aspartame ingestion? How often are such effects seen? Answer ------


What are the reported reactions to aspartame ingestion? We will limit our discussion in this FAQ to reported toxicity Reactions to aspartame ingestion. Controlled studies showing Problems with aspartame ingestion will be discussed in another FAQ. Toxicity reactions to aspartame can be divided into three Types: 1. Acute toxicity reactions occuring within 48 hours of ingestion of An aspartame-containing product. 2. Chronic toxicity effects occuring anywhere from several days of Use to appearing a number of years (I.e., 1-20+ years) after the Beginning of aspartame use. 3. Potential toxicity effects that would be nearly impossible for The user to recognize the link to aspartame. In an epidemiological survey which appeared in the Journal of Applied Nutrition (Roberts 1988), 551 persons who have Reported toxicity effects from aspartame ingestion were Surveyed. The adverse effects found cover a subset of reported Acute and chronic toxicity effects from aspartame. What follows is a listing of the adverse health effects Which were found.

------------------- # of People (%) Eye - Decreased vision and/or other eye problems 140 (25%) (blurring, "bright flashes," tunnel vision) - Pain (or or both eyes) 51 (9%) - Decreased tears, trouble with contact lens, 46 (8%) Or both - Blindness (one or both eyes) 14 (3%) Ear - Tinnitus ("ringing," "buzzing") 73 (13%) - Severe intolerance for noise 47 (9%) - Marked impairment of hearing 25 (5%) Neurologic - Headaches 249 (45%) - Dizziness, unsteadiness, or both 217 (39%) - Confusion, memory loss, or both 157 (29%) - Severe drowsiness and sleepiness 93 (17%) - Paresthesias ("pins and needles," "tingling") 82 (15%) Or numbness of the limbs - Convulsions (grand mal epileptic attacks) 80 (15%) - Petit mal attacks and "absences" 18 (3%) - Severe slurring of speech 64 (12%) - Severe tremors 51 (9%) - Severe "hyperactivity" and "restless legs" 43 (8%) - Atypical facial pain 38 (7%) Psychologic-Psychiatric - Severe depression 139 (25%) - "Extreme irritability" 125 (23%) - "Severe anixiety attacks" 105 (19%) - "Marked personality changes" 88 (16%) - Recent "severe insomnia" 76 (14%) - "Severe aggravation of phobias" 41 (7%) Chest - Palpitations, tachycardia (rapid heart action), 88 (16%) Of both - "Shortness of breath" 54 (10%) - Atypical chest pain 44 (8%) - Recent hypertension (high blood pressure) 34 (6%) Gastrointestinal - Nausea 79 (14%) - Diarrhea 70 (13%) Associated gross blood in the stools (12) - Abdominal pain 70 (13%) - Pain on swallowing 28 (5%) Skin and Allergies - Severe itching without a rash 44 (8%) - Severe lip and mouth reactions 29 (5%) - Urticaria (hives) 25 (5%) - Other eruptions 48 (9%) - Aggravation of respiratory allergies 10 (2%) Endocrine and Metabolic - Problems with diabetes: loss of control; 60 (11%) Precipitation of clinical diabetes; Aggravation or simulation of diabetic Complications - Menstrual changes 45 (6%) Severe reduction or cessation of periods (22) - Paradoxic weight gain 34 (5%) - Marked weight loss 26 (6%) - Marked thinning or loss of the hair 32 (6%) - Aggravated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar 25 (5%) Attacks) Other - Frequency of voiding (day and night), burning 69 (13%) On urination (dysuria), or both - Excessive thirst 65 (12%) - Severe joint pains 58 (11%) - "Bloat" 57 (10%) - Fluid retention and leg swelling 20 (4%) - Increased susceptibility to infection 7 (1%) -------------------

There are other clinical reports in the scientific literature of Aspartame-caused toxicity reactions including Blumenthal (1997), Drake (1986), Johns (1986), Lipton (1989), McCauliffe (1991), Novick (1985), Watts (1991), Walton (1986, 1988), and Wurtman (1985).

Many pilots appear to be particularly susceptible to the effects of 
aspartame ingestion. They have reported numerous serious toxicity
effects including grand mal seizures in the cockpit (Stoddard 1995).
Nearly 1,000 cases of pilot reactions have been reported to the
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network Pilot Hotline (Stoddard 1995).
This susceptibility may be related to ingesting methanol at altitude
as suggested in a letter from Dr. Phil Moskal, Professor of
Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Pathology, Chairman of the Department
of Pathology, Director of Public Health Laboratories (Moskal 1990),
or it may simply be that some pilots tend to ingest large quantities
of aspartame during a flight. Whatever the case, numerous warnings
about aspartame dangers have appeared in piloting journals including
The Aviation Consumer (1988), Aviation Medical Bulliten (1988),
Pacific Flyer (1988), CAA General Aviation (1989), Aviation Safety
Digest (1989), General Aviation News (1989), Plane & Pilot (1990),
Canadian General Aviation News (1990), National Business Aircraft
Association Digest (NBAA Digest 1993), International Council of
Air Shows (ICAS 1995), and the Pacific Flyer (1995). 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 cumlative deliterious 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 (US Air Force 1992).

Countless other toxicity effects have been reported to the FDA (DHHS
1995), other independent organizations (Mission Possible 1996,
Stoddard 1995), and independent scientists (e.g., 80 cases of
seizures were reported to Dr. Richard Wurtman, Food (1986)).
Samples of some aspartame toxicity reactions reported on the
Internet can be found on the Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Info
Center web page:

Frequently, aspartame toxicity is misdiagnosed as a specific disease.
This has yet to be reported in the scientific literature, yet it has
been reported countless times to independent organizations and
scientists (Mission Possible 1994, Stoddard 1995). In other cases,
it has been reported that chronic aspartame ingestion has triggered
or worsened certain chronic illnesses. Nearly 100% of the time, the
patient and physician assume that these worsening conditions are
simply a normal progression of the illness. Sometimes that may be
the case, but many times it is chronic aspartame poisoning.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse
effects of aspartame, the following list contains a selection
of chronic illnesses which may be caused or worsened by the chronic,
long-term ingestion of aspartame. (Mission Possible 1994, Stoddard

Brain tumors Multiple sclerosis
Epilepsy Chronic faigue syndrome
Parkinson's Disease Alzheimer's
Mental retardation Lymphoma
Birth defects Fibromyalgia
Diabetes Arthritis (including Rheumatoid)
Chemical Sensitivities Attention Deficit Disorder

*Note: In some cases such as MS, the severe symptoms
mimic the illness or exacerbate the illness,
but do not cause the disease.

Also, please note that this is an incomplete list. Clearly,
ingestion of a very slow poison (as discussed in other FAQs) is not
beneficial to anyone who has a chronic illness.

Finally, potential toxicity effects from aspartame including brain
cancer (as seen in pre-approval research) and effects on fetal brain
and nervous system development will be discussed in other FAQs.

==> How often are such effects seen?

Until recently approximately 90% of aspartame sales were in the
United States (Monsanto 1994). Other countries are now being inundated
with aspartame, but it will be some time until they begin to feel the
full effects of aspartame toxicity on the general population. Since the
U.S. has some history of significant use, we will limit the discussion
to the frequency of effects in the U.S.

There have been well over 7,000 aspartame toxicity reactions officially
received by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 1982 (after
aspartame was first approved) until 1995 (DHHS 1993, DHHS 1995).
From this figure, we can estimate the number of actual toxicity
reactions observed.

FDA officials believe that as little as 1% of the serious
adverse drug reactions are reported to the FDA (Kessler
1993). Using a reported rate of 1%, we would estimate that there
have been 700,000 recognized aspartame toxicity reactions in the U.S.
since 1982. However, there are a number of significant adjustments
that must be made before we can accept this estimate.

1. Most physicians are aware of the Adverse Reaction
Monitoring System (ARMS) and are encouraged by the FDA
to report serious adverse drug reactions (Kessler 1993).
Physicians are not encouraged by the FDA to report aspartame
toxicity reactions to the FDA (Food 1995). The lay
public is generally unaware of ARMS and much less likely to
report adverse reactions to the FDA. Therefore, this would
lower the estimated reporting rate below 1%. Let us make a
small adjustment and estimate a 0.88% reporting rate.

2. It was pointed out by James Turner, Esq. in a letter to the then
FDA Commissioner Frank Young that no program to monitor aspartame
toxicity reactions was created until February 1984, two years after
aspartame approval began (Turner 1984). This would probably add at
least 1,200 reported reactions (probably much more), so that we
should use 8,200 toxicity reaction reports. In addition, a
Freedom of Information act request determined that the regional
FDA offices had been told that only "serious" complaints should
be forwarded to the FDA headquarters (Turner 1984). "Serious"
complaints were complaints where the illness was severe enough
to require the attention of a physician. Since this happened
between 1984 (when the monitoring system began) and 1985, we can
estimate an additional 300 toxicity reactions would have been
reported for a total of 8,500.

3. In 1987, it was brought out at U.S. Congressional Hearings that
the FDA had been transferring aspartame toxicity reaction calls
to the AIDS Hotline (Turner 1987). In addition, it was reported
by James Turner, Esq. of Community Nutrition Institute (CNI) that
there were numerous cases of people calling the FDA to report
toxicity reaction and they were told that there was no connection
between aspartame and adverse reactions and no other information was
taken by the FDA. While this may not effect the reporting rate
after the start of 1988, it would significantly effect the reporting
rate before that time. Let us make another small adjustment and
estimate a 0.78% reporting rate.

4. Perhaps the biggest reduction in the reporting rate comes from
the fact that Commissioner Kessler's estimated 1% reporting rate
for adverse drug reactions involves only "serious" adverse
reactions. The rate for reporting *all* drug reactions (if such
reporting were done) would almost certainly be no more than 0.5%.
Therefore, if we cut our current estimated reporting rate of
0.78% in half, the estimated reporting rate for *all* toxicity
reactions to aspartame (including serious or mild) would be no
more than 0.39%.

During the first couple of years that aspartame was on the market,
there was publicity that would likely have increased the reporting
rate. However, since the FDA did not have a monitoring system in
place until February 1984, the estimated increased number of reports
will not be that much. I will reduce the number of reports by 1,000
to 7,500 to take this into account.

We now have approximately 7,500 reports at an estimated reporting
rate of 0.39%. This totals approximately 1.9 million *recognized*
aspartame toxicity reactions in the U.S. between 1982 and 1995.
These reactions run anywhere from mild to very serious illnesses.

It is very important to understand, however, that 1.9 million
represents only those toxicity reactions that have been discovered by
users and/or healthcare practitioners. Quite often, I encounter case
histories were people suffered for long time and did not make the
connection. For example:

"I have suffered from Migraines for years. As soon as I gave up
Nutrasweet my migraines disappeared. All those Cat Scans,
MRI's......for nothing."

"Since I last wrote my brother has been off nutrisweet since
then. My brothers lupus type of symptoms completely went
away. My brother has been a physician for over 10 years
.. his doctor (a specialist) who has been treating him has
seen the significant difference and wants to write a research
paper on this .. my brothers physician has now started
prescribing getting off nutrisweet for his other patients."

Therefore, I believe that in addition to the estimated 1.9 million
people in the U.S. who have recognized aspartame toxicity reactions
in themselves (from serious to mild), there are many times that
number who are suffering from some of the symptoms mentioned above
and that they do not recognize that chronic aspartame use is the
cause or at least a contribuatory factor. I would estimate that *at
least* 7.6 million others are suffering from some symptoms related to
aspartame use (many mild symptoms, but many serious ones as well) and
do not recognize the connection.

In addition to the estimated 1.9 million recognized reactions and 7.6
million unrecognized reactions in the U.S., it is very important to
note that aspartame has been used in significant amounts in the U.S.
for a relatively short time. A U.S. Department of Agriculture
report noted that it wasn't until approximately 1987 that aspartame
was used in significant amounts in the U.S. (USDA 1988). Therefore,
aspartame had been used for only nine (9) years in signficant amounts
through 1995. When one considers that the damage from aspartame is
often silent and cumulative (much like chain-smoking cigarettes), one
can see that a couple of generations of aspartame use might be

The FDA and NutraSweet have claimed that the number of reported
adverse reactions have declined substantially since the mid-
1980s (Pauli 1995, Butchko 1994). In addition, the FDA recently
claimed that the number of reported toxicity reactions for 1995 was
only 11 (WSJ 1996)! It is important to realize that during the
mid-1970s the FDA was investigating wrong-doings of the aspartame
manufacturer and stated the facts exactly as they found them:

"[The manufacturer] lied and they didn't submit the
real nature of their observations because had they
done that it is more than likely that a great number
of these studies would have been rejected simply
for adequacy. What Searle did, they took great
pains to camouflage these shortcomings of the
study. As I say filter and just present to the
FDA what they wished the FDA to know and they did
other terrible things for instance animals would
develop tumors while they were under study. Well
they would remove these tumors from the animals."
[FDA Toxicologist and Task Force member, Dr. Andrian
Gross (Wilson 1985)]

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a number of key government and
FDA officials left their jobs to work with companies related to the
aspartame industry (GAO 1986). This included key FDA officials such
as the head of the FDA Bureau of Foods becoming a Vice President of
the National Drink Association and the FDA Commissioner becoming a
high-paid consultant for the manufacturer's PR firm, Burston
Marsteller (Gordon 1987). After this period of time, there was no
scientific evidence and no amount of serious toxicity reports that
could get the FDA to seriously consider funding independent,
properly-conducted (e.g., chronic exposure) research. That
appearance of the FDA being under the total control of the
manufacturer, Monsanto, continues to this day.

I include these comments about the FDA to demonstrate why no
independent scientist familiar with the aspartame issue takes
statements from the FDA such as "11 reported reactions in 1995"
seriously. There are many people, including myself who have received
that many toxicity reaction reports in a single day during 1995.
The reality is that independent organizations have noted that
aspartame toxicity reaction reports given to them have *increased*
every year since the late 1980s (Stoddard 1995). It is also
important to note that in mid-1995, the FDA admited that it had
stopped recording aspartame toxicity reactions (Food 1995). That
may have something to do with why the numbers that the FDA reported
to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ 1996) were so small!

References Cited

Aviation Consumer 1988. "SafeGuard," June 15, 1988.

Aviation Medical Bulletin 1988. "Pilots and Aspartame,"
October 1988.

Aviation Safety Digest 1989. "Aspartame -- not for the
dieting pilot?" Aviation Safety Digest, ASD 142, Spring
1989 (Australia - 062/5841111).

Blumenthal, H.J., D.A. Vance, 1997, "Chewing Gum Headaches,"
Headache, Volume 37, Number 10, pages 665-666.

Butchko, Harriett H., Frank N. Kotsonis 1994. "Postmarketing
Surveillance in the Food Industry: The Aspartame Case
Study," in Nutritional Toxicology, edited by Frank N.
Kotsonis, Maureen Macky and Jerry Hjelle, Raven Press,
Ltd., New York, c1994.

CAA General Aviation (1989). Safety Information Leaflet,
April 1989, Great Britain.

Canadian General Aviation News 1990. "Fit to fly" Canadian
General Aviation News, March 1990, page 28.

DHHS 1993. "Adverse Reactions Associated With Aspartame
Consumption," Department of Health & Human Services
Memorandum, April 1, 1993, Reprinted in preface of
"Bittersweet Aspartame: A Diet Delusion" by Barbara
Alexander Mullarkey, NutriVoice, P.O. Box 946, Oak
Park, Illinois 60303, (708) 848-0116.

DHHS 1995. Department of Health and Human Services. "Report
on All Adverse Reactions in the Adverse Reaction
Monitoring System." (April 20, 1995).

Drake, M.E., 1986. "Panic Attacks and Excessive Aspartame Ingestion"
(Letter), Lancet, September 13, 1986, page 631.

Food 1986. Food Chemical News, July 28, 1986, page 44.

Food 1995. "Aspartame Adverse Reaction Reports Down in 1994
From 1985 Peak: FDA," Food Chemical News, June 12, 1995,
page 27.

GAO 1986. "Six Former HHS Employees' Involvement in
Aspartame's Approval," United States General Accounting
Office, GAO/HRD-86-109BR, July 1986.

General Aviation News 1989. "NutraSweet...too good to be
true?" by Megan Hicks, General Aviation News, July 31,

Gordon, Gregory, 1987. "NutraSweet: Questions Swirl," UPI
Investigative Report, 10/12/87. Reprinted in US Senate
U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources,
November 3, 1987 regarding "NutraSweet Health and Safety
Concerns." Document # Y 4.L 11/4:S.HR6.100, page 499.

ICAS 1995. "Aspartame Side Effects: Fact or Fiction?"
International Council of Air Shows, February 1995.

Johns, Donald R., 1986. "Migraine Provoked By Aspartame," (Letter),
New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 314, August 14, 1986,
page 456.

Kessler, David A. 1993, "Introducing MEDWatch: A New
Approach to Reporting Medication and Device Adverse
Effects and Product Problems" Journal of the American
Medical Association 269:2765-68.

Lipton, Richard B., et al., 1989. "Aspartame as a Dietary Trigger of
Headache," Headache, Volume 29, pages 90-92.

McCauliffe, D.P., K. Poitras, 1991. "Aspartame-Induced Lobular
Panniculitis," Journal of the American Academy of Dermitology, Volume
24, page 298-300.

Mission Possible 1994. Compiled by researchers, physicians,
and artificial sweetner experts for Mission Possible, a
group dedicated to warning consumers about aspartame.
Available from Mission Possible, 9270 River Club Pkwy,
Duluth, Georgia 30155, 770-242-2599,

Mission Possible 1996. Conversations between Betty Martini of
Mission Possible and Mark D. Gold.

Monsanto 1994. "Monsanto Annual Report," 1994.

Moskal, Phil, 1990. Letter from Dr. Phil Moskal to George
Leighton, June 19, 1990, Reprinted in "The Deadly Deception"
Compiled by the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network for volumes
of available published information, ACSN, P.O. Box 780634,
Dallas, Texas 75378, (800) 969-6050.

NBAA Digest 1993. "Operationally Speaking" by G. Dennis
Wright, Vice President of Operations. NBAA Digest, Volume
6, Number 6, June 1993. Available from National Business
Aircraft Association, Inc., 1200 Eighteenth St., NW,
Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036-2506, (202) 783-9000.

Novick, Nelson Lee, 1995. "Aspartame-Induced Granulomatous
Panniculitis," Annals of Internal Medicine, Volume 102, Number 2,
pages 206-207.

Pacific Flyer 1988. "This Could Save Your Life" Pacific
Flyer Aviation News, November 1988, 3355 Mission Ave.,
Oceanside, CA 92054.

Pacific Flyer 1995. "ICAS Issues Warning To Its Members About Diet
Drinks," March 1995.

Pauli, George, 1995. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied
Nutrition (CFSAN). Radio broadcast: "Aspartame," The
Derek McGinty Show, WAMU Radio (88.5 FM), Brandywine
Building, The American University, Washington, DC 20016-
8082, (202) 885-1200, August 29, 1995.

Plane & Pilot 1990. "Getting High" Plane & Pilot, January
1990, page 36-37.

Roberts, H.J., 1988. "Reactions Attributed to Aspartame-
Containing Products: 551 Cases," Journal of Applied
Nutrition, Volume 40, page 85-94.

Stoddard, Mary Nash, 1995. Conversations between Mary Nash
Stoddard of the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and
Mark D. Gold.

Turner, James, Leonard, Rodney, 1984. Letter from Rodney E. Leonard
and James S. Turner of Community Nutrition Institute to Dr. Fank E.
Young, FDA Commissioner, September 13, 1984. Reprinted in
"Aspartame Safety Act," Congressional Record, Volume 131, No. 106,
August 1, 1985, page S10841.

Turner, James, 1987. Testimony of James Turner, Esq.,
Community Nutrition Institute before the U.S. Senate
Committee on Labor and Human Resources, November 3, 1987
regarding "NutraSweet Health and Safety Concerns."
Document # Y 4.L 11/4:S.HR6.100, page 316.

US Air Force 1992. "Aspartame Alert." Flying Safety 48(5):
20-21 (May 1992).

USDA 1988. "1988 United States Department of Agriculture
Situation and Outlook Report; Sugar and Sweeteners."
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, pp. 51.

WSJ 1996. "Aspartame Critic Seeks More Research On Possibility of
Links to Brain Tumors," The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 1996.

Walton, Ralph G., 1986. "Seizure and Mania After High Intake
of Aspartame," Psychosomatics, Volume 27, page 218-220.

Walton, Ralph G., 1988. "The Possible Role of Aspartame in
Seizure Induction," Presented at "Dietary Phenylalanine
and Brain Function." Proceedings of the First
International Meeting on Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain
Function, Washington, D.C., May 8-10, 1987. Center for
Brain Sciences and Metabolism Charitable Trust, P.O. Box
64, Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02142. Reprinted in
"Dietary Phenyalalnine and Brain Function," c1988,
Birkhauser, Boston, MA USA, page 159-162.

Watts, Richard S., 1991. "Aspartame, Headaches and Beta Blockers"
(Letter to the Editor), Headache, March, 1991, Page 181-182.

Wilson, Steve, 1985. "Sweet Suspicions," Television
broadcast and interviews regarding aspartame. Transcript
in Congressional Record, Volume 131, No. 106, August 1,
1985, page S10826-S10827.

Wurtman, Richard J., 1985. "Aspartame: Possible Effect on
Seizure Susceptibility" (Letter), The Lancet, Volume 2, page 1060.

     Aspartame Research

Recent Independent Aspartame Research Results & News

(1998 - 2007)

The results of recent independent research continue the trend of research not funded by the manufacturer finding serious problems with aspartame ingestion. Details about other independent research demonstrating the hazards of aspartame ingestion can be found in the Aspartame FAQs and Aspartame Scientific Abuse web pages.


Analysis Shows Nearly 100% of Independent Research Finds Problems With Aspartame

An analysis of peer reviewed medical literature using MEDLINE and other databases was conducted by Ralph G. Walton, MD, Chairman, The Center for Behavioral Medicine, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. Dr. Walton analyzed 164 studies which were felt to have relevance to human safety questions. Of those studies, 74 studies had aspartame industry-related sponsorship and 90 were funded without any industry money.

Of the 90 non-industry-sponsored studies, 83 (92%) identified one or more problems with aspartame. Of the 7 studies which did not find a problems, 6 of those studies were conducted by the FDA. Given that a number of FDA officials went to work for the aspartame industry immediately following approval (including the former FDA Commissioner), many consider these studies to be equivalent to industry-sponsored research.

Of the 74 aspartame industry-sponsored studies, all 74 (100%) claimed that no problems were found with aspartame. This is reminiscent of tobacco industry research where it is primarily the tobacco research which never finds problems with the product, but nearly all of the independent studies do find problems.

The 74 aspartame industry-sponsored studies are those which one inveriably sees cited in PR/news reports and reported by organizations funded by Monsanto/Benevia/NutraSweet (e.G., IFIC, ADA). These studies have severe design deficiencies which help to guarantee the "desired" outcomes. These design deficiencies may not be apparent to the inexperienced scientist. Healthcare practitioners and scientists should print out the all of the documents on the Monsanto/NutraSweet Scientific Abuse web page, the Scientific FAQs web page and the Aspartame Toxicity Reaction Report Samples. Please refer scientific questions to

Aspartame Ingestion Causes Formaldehyde Accumulation in the Body

Excerpt from:

Trocho, C., et al., 1998. "Formaldehyde Derived From Dietary Aspartame Vinds to Tissue Components in vivo," Life Sciences, Vol. 63, No. 5, PP. 337+, 1998

Aspartame and MSG Cause Painful Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Ann Pharmacother 2001 Jun;35(6):702-6
Relief of fibromyalgia symptoms following discontinuation of dietary excitotoxins.
Smith JD, Terpening CM, Schmidt SO, Gums JG. Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Gainesville, FL, USA.

BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia is a common rheumatologic disorder that is often difficult to treat effectively. CASE SUMMARY: Four patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome for two to 17 years are described. All had undergone multiple treatment modalities with limited success. All had complete, or nearly complete, resolution of their symptoms within months after eliminating monosodium glutamate (MSG) or MSG plus aspartame from their diet. All patients were women with multiple comorbidities prior to elimination of MSG. All have had recurrence of symptoms whenever MSG is ingested. DISCUSSION: Excitotoxins are molecules, such as MSG and aspartate, that act as excitatory neurotransmitters, and can lead to neurotoxicity when used in excess. We propose that these four patients may represent a subset of fibromyalgia syndrome that is induced or exacerbated by excitotoxins or, alternatively, may comprise an excitotoxin syndrome that is similar to fibromyalgia. We suggest that identification of similar patients and research with larger numbers of patients must be performed before definitive conclusions can be made. CONCLUSIONS: The elimination of MSG and other excitotoxins from the diets of patients with fibromyalgia offers a benign treatment option that has the potential for dramatic results in a subset of patients. PMID: 11408989

Aspartame and Brain Tumors

A published study in Sweden that looked at various possible causes of brain tumors (e.G., cell phones, aspartame) found a link between use of diet drinks and certain types of large brain tumors in middle-aged and elderly population groups.

Aspartame Causes Memory Loss

Subject(s): ASPARTAME -- Physiological effect; NONNUTRITIVE sweeteners
Side effects; MEMORY
Source: Psychology Today, Mar/Apr 2001, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p20, 2/5p

Section: [Nutrition] Facts&Findings
New research suggests that the artificial sweetener aspartame may actually go to your head.
By Peter Rebhahn

Anecdotal evidence that aspartame disrupts memory has been growing since the sugar substitute was approved in the early 1980s, though attempts to prove the claim have so far been equivocal. Previous studies have tested memory by asking aspartame users to remember lists of words or numbers-- tests of short-term memory. But according to Timothy M. Barth, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Texas Christian University, those studies focused on the wrong type of memory.

In his study of 90 students, Barth found that participants who regularly drank diet sodas containing aspartame performed as well as nonusers on laboratory tests. However, aspartame users were more likely to report long-term memory lapses like forgetting details of personal routines or whether or not a task had been completed.

"These people aren't crazy," says Barth. Instead, "the type of memory problems they report are not the type of memories that have been assessed in the typical laboratory study."

After reporting his findings at a recent Society for Neuroscience meeting, Barth cautioned that he thinks it's premature to condemn aspartame. But he does worry about the largely untested effects of long-term use. Already, he has made some converts. "Several of my graduate students who drank diet soda no longer do."

Aspartame and Lymphomas / Leukemias

A long-term study linking aspartame ingestion to lymphomas and leukemias in animals. The full study can be read at: Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock M.D. commented: "The new study released in the European Journal of Oncology by Morando Soffritti and co-workers should terrify mothers and all those consuming aspartame sweetened products. This was a carefully done study which clearly demonstrated a statistically significant increase in several types of lymphomas and leukemias in rats. Both of these malignancies have increased significantly in this country since the widespread use of aspartame.

"This study confirmed the previous study by Dr. Trocho and co-workers, which also found the formaldehyde breakdown product of aspartame to be damaging to cellular DNA and that this damage was accumulative. The type of damage was a duplicate of that associated with cancers. Along with this most recent study, this means that drinking a single diet cola sweetened with aspartame every day could increase one's risk of developing a lymphoma or leukemia.

"They also found an increased incidence of malignant brain tumors, even though it was not statistically significant. This does not mean there is no association to brain tumors, since only the animals exposed to aspartame developed the tumors. With children and pregnant women drinking the largest amount of diet colas, this puts their children at the greatest risk of developing one of these horrible diseases. Their study found that even low doses of aspartame could cause these malignancies; yet, the higher the dose, the more cancers that were seen."

A followup study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives showing that there was a significant increase in cancer of the kidney and peripheral nerves. The full published study can be found in PDF format at:

Aspartame and Weight Gain

A study conducted at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center reported a "41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day." The findings come from eight years of collecting data by Sharon P. Fowler, MPH and colleagues. The results of the study was reported at the 65th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in San Diet on June 10-14, 2005 (Abstract 1058-P). While this study, by itself, does not prove that aspartame causes weight gain, it adds to the evidence seen in independent research. For example, a study conducted by Dr. H.J. Roberts found that 5% of subjects reporting symptoms from aspartame also reported a "paridoxic weight gain." (Reactions Attributed to Aspartame-Containing Products: 551 Cases," Journal of Applied Nutrition, Volume 40, page 85-94). Lavin found that females with eating restraint had a higher Calorie intake subsequent to aspartame intake as opposed to sugar or water intake. (Lavin, J.H., S.J. French, N.W. Read, 1997. "The Effect of Sucrose- and Aspartame-Sweetened Drinks on Energy Intake, Hunger and Food Choice of Female, Moderately Restrained Eaters," International Journal of Obesity, Volume 21, pages 37-42, 1997.)

Aspartame and Combined Toxicity from Formaldehyde & Excitotoxins

A study published in Toxicology (2005 Jun 1; 210(2-3): 235-45. "Cytotoxic effect of formaldehyde with free radicals via increment of cellular reactive oxygen species.") by Saito and colleagues demonstrates that formaldehyde is much more toxic to cells when free radical levels are increased. As has been demonstrated by Trocho, et al. in 1998, aspartame ingestion leads to the significant exposure to and accumulation of formaldehyde adducts in the organs and tissues. In addition, 40% of aspartame breaks down into an excitotoxic amino acid. As Neuroscientist Russell Blaylock points out, "Excitotoxins destroy neurons partly by stimulating the generation of large numbers of free radicals."

12 Environmental Health Experts Call for Aspartame Review and Possible Ban

The letter from the 12 U.S. environmental health experts can be found at:


Toxicity Effects of Aspartame Use

Selection of adverse effects from short-term and/or long-Term use

Note: It often takes at least sixty days without *any* aspartame or nutrasweet to see a significant improvement. Improvement in health is also often accompanied by weight loss. Check all labels very carefully (including vitamins and pharmaceuticals). Look for the word "aspartame" on the label and avoid it. (Also, it is a good idea to avoid "acesulfame-k" or "sunette.") Finally, avoid getting nutrition information from junk food industry PR organizations such as IFIC or organizations that accept large sums of money from the junk and chemical food industry such as the American Dietetic Association.
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Migraines and severe headaches (Trigger or Cause From Chronic Intake)
  • Memory loss (common toxicity effects)
  • Slurring of speech
  • Confusion
  • Numbness or tingling of extremities
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks (common aspartame toxicity reaction)
  • Marked personality changes
  • Phobias
  • Rapid heart beat, tachycardia (another frequent reaction)
  • Asthma
  • Chest pains
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Nausea or vomitting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swallowing pain
  • Itching
  • Hives / urticaria
  • Other allergic reactions
  • Blood sugar control problems (e.G., hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia)
  • Menstrual cramps and other menstraul problems or changes
  • Impotency and sexual problems
  • Food cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss / baldness or thinning of hair
  • Burning urination & other urination problems
  • Excessive thirst or excessive hunger
  • Bloating, edema (fluid retention)
  • Infection susceptibility
  • Joint pain
  • Brain cancer (Pre-approval studies in animals)
  • Death

Aspartame Disease Mimmicks Symptoms or Worsens the Following Diseases

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS)
  • Diabetes and diabetic Complications
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Birth defects
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lymphoma
  • Lyme disease
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression and other psychological disorders


Chairman of Citizens for Health Declares FDA Should Review Approval of Splenda

New Study of Splenda and Sucralose Reveals Shocking New Information About Potential Harmful Effect on Humans

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 22, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health expressed shock and outrage after reading a new report from scientists at Duke University. "The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study, published this past week in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A, confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label," said Turner.

Among the results in the study by Drs. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, Eman M. El-Masry, Ali A. Abdel-Rahman, Roger E. McLendon and Susan S. Schiffman is evidence that, in the animals studied, Splenda reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50%, increases the pH level in the intestines, contributes to increases in body weight and affects the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in the body in such a way that crucial health-related drugs could be rejected. Turner noted that the P-gp effect "could result in crucial medications used in chemotherapy for cancer patients, AIDS treatment and drugs for heart conditions being shunted back into the intestines rather than being absorbed by the body as intended."

The study was conducted using male rats over a period of twelve weeks. The manufacturers of Splenda also used a rat study when they applied for and received approval to market the product from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. At the time, the findings from their rat studies were extrapolated as to possible effects on humans. This is standard FDA practice and this study is consistent with that practice.

Turner said, "This report followed accepted policies and procedures and the results make clear the potential for disturbing side effects from the ingestion of Splenda. It is like putting a pesticide in your body. And this is at levels of intake erroneously approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A person eating two slices of cake and drinking two cups of coffee containing Splenda would ingest enough sucralose to affect the P-glycoprotein, while consuming just seven little Splenda packages reduces good bacteria." Although the effect of consuming Splenda does not result from a one time use, the side effects do occur after accumulated use. Turner also noted unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to the claims of Johnson & Johnson.

Turner announced, "We are calling today on the FDA to immediately accept our petition filed over a year ago and initiate a review of its approval of sucralose and to require a warning label on Splenda packaging cautioning that people who take medications and/or have gastrointestinal problems avoid using Splenda. The new study makes it clear that Splenda can cause you to gain weight and lose the benefits of medications designed to improve and protect your health. The FDA should not continue to turn a blind eye to this health threat."

Citizens for Health will testify in Sacramento, CA, on October 3, 2008, before the California Assembly Committee on Health which is examining the use of deceptive advertising to promote sales of potentially unhealthy food additives, particularly artificial sweeteners.


Splenda Destroys Your Gut Flora

Different artificial sweeteners have been found to wreak havoc in a number of different ways. Aspartame, for example, has a long list of studies indicating its harmful effects, ranging from brain damage to pre-term delivery.

Splenda (sucralose) has been found to be particularly damaging to your intestines.

A study published in 2008 found that Splenda:

  • Reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
  • Increases the pH level in your intestines, and
  • Affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you're on certain medications like chemotherapy, or treatments for AIDS and certain heart conditions

They also found unmistakable evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims.

In response to this study, James Turner, chairman of the national consumer education group Citizens for Health issued the following statement:

"The report makes it clear that the artificial sweetener Splenda and its key component sucralose pose a threat to the people who consume the product. Hundreds of consumers have complained to us about side effects from using Splenda and this study ... confirms that the chemicals in the little yellow package should carry a big red warning label."

I agree. It's truly disturbing that Splenda can destroy up to 50 percent of your healthy intestinal bacteria, as these bacteria are absolutely vital for supporting your general health!  Many people are already deficient in healthy bacteria due to consuming too many highly processed foods. This is why a high quality probiotic is one of the very few supplements I highly recommend for most, if not all, people.

Believe me, if you continually destroy up to half of your gut flora by regularly consuming Splenda, then poor health is virtually guaranteed!

Splenda has Never Been Proven Safe for Human Consumption

Splenda was approved by the FDA as a tabletop- and general-purpose sweetener in processed foods in 1998. The FDA claims the approval was based on more than 110 animal and human safety studies. However, what they don't specify was that out of these 110 studies, only two were human studies, consisting of a combined total of 36 people, of which only 23 people actually ingested sucralose.

Additionally, the longest of these two human trials lasted only four days and looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance!

Many people have sent me stories about their adverse reactions to Splenda, which are posted on my site. This list alone contains more people than were formally studied in the research submitted for FDA approval!

The remainder of those 110-plus "safety studies" were done on animals, and they actually revealed plenty of problems, such as: 

  • Decreased red blood cells -- sign of anemia -- at levels above 1,500 mg/kg/day
  • Increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production and vitality, as well as brain lesions at higher doses
  • Enlarged and calcified kidneys (McNeil stated this is often seen with poorly absorbed substances and was of no toxicological significance. The FDA Final Rule agreed that these are findings that are common in aged female rats and are not significant.)
  • Spontaneous abortions in nearly half the rabbit population given sucralose, compared to zero aborted pregnancies in the control group 
  • A 23 percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a 6 percent death rate in the control group 

Common Side Effects of Splenda

The web site lists a variety of consumer complaints from Splenda consumption, such as:

Gastrointestinal problems Blurred vision
Migraines Allergic reactions
Seizures Blood sugar increases
Dizziness Weight gain

You can also read the first-hand accounts of many of my readers here, at least one of whom say that allowing Splenda on the market is "worse than chemical warfare" based on the adverse effects she suffered before she figured out the cause. Just as with aspartame, many Splenda users complain of general malaise or "feeling under the weather," along with a variety of neurological changes, such as foggy-headedness, lack of concentration, and "bad mood."

If you have ever suffered any side effects from taking Splenda or any artificially sweetened product, I strongly recommend reporting  it to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.

Splenda—"Made from Sugar" But More Similar to DDT...

That's right.

The catchy slogan "Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar" has fooled many, but chemically, Splenda is actually more similar to DDT than sugar.

Sucralose starts off with a sugar molecule, yes, but that's where the similarity ends. (A sucrose molecule is a disaccharide that contains two single sugars bound together, i.e. glucose and fructose.) Then, in a five-step patented process, three chlorine molecules are added to that sucrose (sugar) molecule.

This process converts the sugar molecule to a fructo-galactose molecule.

This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature, and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. As a result of this "unique" biochemical make-up, McNeil Nutritionals makes its claim that Splenda is not digested or metabolized by the body, hence it has zero calories.

But, if you look at the research, you will find that an average of 15 percent of sucralose IS in fact absorbed into your digestive system, and ultimately is stored in your body. To reach the average number of 15 percent means that some people absorb more and some people absorb less, depending on your biochemical makeup.  

If you are healthy and your digestive system works well, you may be at HIGHER risk for breaking down this product in your stomach and intestines, so for you the adverse reactions may be more acutely felt.

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