Answers to Aspartame/NutraSweet posts

Mark Gold mgold at max.tiac.net
Fri Aug 4 09:07:32 EST 1995


: From: bretwood at cs.uoregon.edu (Joseph Bret Wood)
: Newsgroups: sci.med.psychobiology,sci.med.vision,sci.med.nutrition,
: sci.med,bionet.neuroscience
: Subject: Re: Answers to Aspartame/NutraSweet posts
: Date: 3 Aug 1995 23:48:38 -0700
: 
: Mark Gold  <mgold at max.tiac.net> wrote:
: >Here are some answers to common NutraSweet PR points made yesterday.
:
: (It's news to me that I've become a NutraSweet PR person.

Sorry.  I didn't mean that you've become a NutraSweet PR person, just 
that it is common for NutraSweet to discuss lethal amounts of 
methanol even though no one has suggested that there is enough 
methanol in a few cans of aspartame-containing soda to be lethal.  
Out of the countless reports put out by the aspartame industry, I 
would be interested in seeing one or two reports which compares 
environmental exposure of methanol or formaldehyde to methanol doses 
in aspartame at levels within the FDA Acceptable Daily Intake.

>In many publications by NutraSweet researchers, the only methanol
>dose discussed is that which is acutely toxic -- meaning immediately
>poisonous.  There is an enormous difference between the dose required
>for acute toxicity and that which causes chronic poisoning.  As an
>analogy, the lead in lead paint will not cause children to die, but
>regular breathing in to particles from lead paint has dire
>consequences.  Therefore, as soon as you read a publication which
>compares the dose of methanol from NutraSweet to an acutely toxic
>dose, you know you can trash the report because it's a PR piece.

: Untrue.  You could keep the report as proof of the fact that aspartame 
: definitely does not cause illness through an acute mechanism.  And you
: should keep in mind that the report has no bearing on the chronic
: possiblities for aspartame-related methanol toxicity.

Very low doses of methanol can cause acute symptoms.  Headaches and
gastrointestinal disturbances are common, for example.  I apologize 
if I wasn't clear on this.  I was referring in the last post to 
acutely toxic = lethal (or near lethal) dose.  There are other
breakdown products in aspartame that can cause acute symptoms as
well.  My point was that if the researchers are trying to convince 
the readers of "safety" by discussing lethal doses of methanol, how 
much of what they say in the rest of the report can you really trust. 
I think you will find the answer to be "very little" the more you 
look into the issue.

: Also, your analogy to lead poisoning is so ridiculous that it is hardly worth
: responding to.  It is a well known fact that many heavy metals are not
: eliminated from the body, and that heavy metal poisoning is cumulative.

I don't want to get into semantic games again.  The point of the lead 
analogy was simply that there are toxic chemicals that are lethal at 
one dose of exposure but can also have a toxic effect from a chronic 
exposure at a lower dose.  It's only an irresponsible analogy if you 
try to read more into it than that.  Perhaps another chemical, say 
fluoride, would work better for you.  If you have an analogy that is 
better, I'd be happy to use it instead.

By the way, it is believed that formic acid can accumulate in the
organs from occupational exposure.  Also, the damage caused by 
ongoing exposure to methanol is not something that disappears as soon 
as methanol is eliminated.

One other point, I believe that people who are interested in looking 
at the scientific aspects of this subject should keep a notebook of 
all of the irrelevant and inaccurate information commonly found in
these industry reports.  From the last post:

1.  Discussions of lethal dose of methanol.  Irrelevant & obscures 
    legitimate concerns.

2.  Discussions of methanol in natural products.  Not backed up by 
    data for absorption and conversion to formaldehyde & formate.
    Evidence is stronger that it is not absorbed and metabolised into 
    formate significantly (i.e., like alcohol).

3.  Discussions of number of "satisfied users".  Does not mention 
    number of adverse reports multiplied by estimated reporting rate
    (and possibly more since adverse reports are not required).  

I suggest getting a big notebook.

Best regards,
                           - Mark
                        mgold at tiac.net



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