bionet.neuroscience.not.aspartame

Mark Gold mgold at max.tiac.net
Sat Aug 26 15:17:49 EST 1995


>From: grovesa at starbase1.caltech.edu (Andrew K. Groves)
>Newsgroups: bionet.neuroscience
>Subject: Re: bionet.neuroscience.not.aspartame
>Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 10:29:34 -0700
>
>In article <Pine.NEB.3.91.950826042333.12779A-100000 at max.tiac.net>, Mark
>Gold <mgold at max.tiac.net> wrote:
>
>> In 1992, an independent researcher, Camfield (Neurology;42:1000),
>> showed that children with a history of seizures who ingested a single
>> dose of aspartame had abnormal EEG spike waves. 
>
>So why is this single dose study more valid than the other single dose
>studies that you rubbish?

Andy,

I believe that the Camfield study had flaws as well.  However, it is 
the combination of multiple serious flaws that renders the industry 
experiments useless.  In the case of the studies I reviewed in the 
last post, the fact that the subjects were on anti-epileptic medicine 
was a particular bad flaw (especially when combined with use of 
capsules, etc.).

The Camfield study was very focused -- studying a very specific 
population who were not on medication.  The study looked at EEG 
spike-wave discharge.  I am disappointed that the Camfield study did 
not use real-world aspartame products (at the FDA ADI level) and did 
not last for a reasonable length of time (e.g., at least 6 months).
Even with these problems which would tend to significantly reduce 
problems experienced from aspartame, Camfield did find significant 
changes in the EEG measurements.

Given the large number of persons who have reported seizures and 
convulsions from medium- or long-term aspartame use and the liklihood 
of a much larger population of unreported or undiagnosed cases, I 
would think that it would be an embarrassment to the scientific 
community that some *quality*, truely independent studies have not 
been conducted.  Having read numerous case histories of people 
discovering that aspartame was causing or contributing to their
seizures (including some on the Net -- one where the patient ended up 
in a coma before it was finally determined that aspartame was the 
cause -- of course problems cleared up eventually after aspartame was 
stopped), I'm not about to wait until the scientific community gets 
around to conducting some decent long-term tests.

>> I disagree.  I believe that the most important key is to distinguish 
>> between the industry studies which are almost always flawed to the point 
>> of being worthless and the independent studies which usually show 
>> adverse reactions caused by aspartame.  And whatever you do, watch 
>> out for the industry "reviews" which are just one convincing-sounding 
>> mis-statement after another.

>Just out of interest, how can one tell whether a study is an 'industry
>study' or not?

Well, it used to be easier.  Almost all of the industry studies were 
conducted or funded by G.D. Searle or NutraSweet.  As I pointed out 
in an earlier post, NutraSweet will not even provide aspartame for a
study that has a chance of showing an adverse reaction let alone 
actually fund a quality study.  A few of the industry studies were 
conducted by ILSI which is supported by NutraSweet and other 
companies which have an interest in seeing aspartame "proven" "safe" 
(e.g., NutraSweet Co., Ajinomoto Co. (Searle's Japanese licensee), 
Coca-Cola Co., Pepsico, Inc., Royal Crown Cola Co., Seven-Up, General 
Foods, etc)  Some of the people who run ILSI have an enormous 
conflict-of-interest.  One person being one of the aspartame 
industry's main researchers.  One industry official reportedly 
threatened to veto the ILSI funding of a researcher who had pointed
out possible dangers from aspartame.

Of course food industry officials are not total idiots.  They know 
that there has been quite a bit of criticism of them conducting or 
funding studies that have forgone conclusions.  I believe that is why
these "independent" organizations such as ILSI and IFIC were formed.

More recently, there have been some research where the 
funding was not disclosed or that funding was a government 
organization, but many of the same researchers have performed 
simililarly flawed research paid for by industry in the past.  The 
studies presented in the "Journal of Clinical and Experimental 
Neuropsychology" (1993; 15:406-407) is a good example.

Other seemingly independent studies had some involvement of NutraSweet.  
The studies on pilots fits into this category.  Also, the boss of one 
of the organizations funding the study left took a job with the G.D. 
Searle's law firm while he was involved in investigating G.D. Searle 
for what was said to be fradulent aspartame pre-approval tests.  
Given the fact that the protocol designs would lead to a significant 
reduction in biochemical changes from all of aspartame's breakdown 
products, I find it difficult to believe that NutraSweet didn't have 
a hand in the design of these protocols.  Even if they didn't these 
studies were funded by organizations that historically have ignored 
problems found caused by aspartame.

A few thoughts on a quality independent study:

1.  Start by testing a vulnerable population (e.g., Patients with 
    chronic depression).

2.  Use real-world aspartame-containing products, especially diet 
    sodas (ingested in between meals).  This way the subjects will be 
    getting a significant amount of beta-aspartame, racimized amino 
    acids, and DKP (linked to brain tumors), and other "good stuff" along 
    with the methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid.  Products 
    should be purchased from the store and *not* from NutraSweet.

3.  The study should last at least 6 months, but one to two years is 
    much better.  The longer tests are better for a less vulnerable 
    population.

4.  Test at the FDA ADI or double that value (to provide a safety 
    margin).  Industry's own experiments show that large amounts of 
    aspartame can be ingested regularly by both adults and children.

5.  Take various, relevant biochemical measurements at the proper time.  
    Important to use properly sensitive tests (for a change).  
    Present individual measurements or at least the mean *peak* values.

6.  Test for a wide variety of relevant adverse reactions.

7.  No game-playing with regular co-administration of other substances
    which can reduce the effects of aspartame breakdown products.

8.  Investigators should have no link to aspartame manufacturers, 
    food companies that use significant amounts of aspartame (e.g., soft 
    drink manufacturers) and organizations that have historically ignored 
    aspartame reactions.  Studies protocol should be reviewed by 
    researchers who have shown their expertise on the subject (e.g., Dr. 
    Roberts, Dr. Olney, Dr. Monte, etc.).  One of these experts should 
    participate as an investigator to help monitor the quality of the
    study.

9.  The funding should come from the NIH.

10. No contact or input should be needed (or desired) from industry 
    researchers or officials.

Best regards,
                            - Mark
                         mgold at tiac.net



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