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Mark Gold mgold at max.tiac.net
Wed Nov 22 22:36:13 EST 1995

>From: jerikse at news.luc.edu (Jason L. Eriksen)
>Newsgroups: bionet.neuroscience
>Date: 22 Nov 1995 19:35:59 GMT
>Much as your concern is touching, I am not convinced that the magnitude of
>aspartame hazards are near what you are proposing.  In fact, I think that
>they are minor, and while a few individuals may have problems with
>the metabolism of aspartame, for the majority this product is safe.


This argument would also work for cigarette "safety."  Cigarettes 
cause some "minor" acute reactions in some people, coughing, 
asthmatic reactions, etc.  After a relatively short period of time 
and no large-scale epidemiological studies, cigarettes would appear 
to be perfectly safe for the majority of the population.  In fact,
they might be seen to calm people with minor nervous disorders.

In the 1950's, the cigarette industry controlled almost all of the 
research involving the safety of tobacco.  One way they avoided 
negative results is to fund countless experiments on cigarettes, but 
avoid looking at key issues.  

Similar to the cigarette issues, Monsanto/NutraSweet controls almost
all of the research on aspartame.  They avoid negative results by 
conducting very poorly designed "research" (repeating the same flaws 
over and over) and avoiding looking at key issues.

Fortunately, there was some independent research perfomred on 
aspartame by researchers who were actually interested in legitamate 
tests.  Almost without exception, these studies have shown adverse 
reactions to aspartame.

These studies helped prove that aspartame can cause some minor
to serious *acute* reactions caused by aspartame.  There are a large 
number of people who are experiencing very serious reactions and
sometimes permanent damage from long-term use of aspartame.  Grand mal 
seizures, MS-like symptoms, severe depression and memory loss, vision 
loss, chronic fatigue, arthritic-like conditions, etc.

How do I know?  I receive many emails and letters from such people and
many thank you's for tremendous improvements and sometimes cures
after a period off of the junk.  An amazing "placebo effect" if I 
ever saw one!  Of course, not everything is caused by aspartame and
in many cases, aspartame may be only a contributing factor or no
factor at all.  But out of concern for my fellow persons, I always 
suggest getting off aspartame as a good initial step in improving 
one's health (and helping to prevent future health problems).

There have been absolutely *no* studies looking at the effects of
long-term ingestion of aspartame on the population.  The 
*independent* short-term studies have confirmed acute reactions in 
certain populations, and I believe quality, independent long-term 
studies would confirm the very serious health effects in a 
significant percentage of the general population (and the percentage 
would go up as the length of the study increased).  Aspartame has 
been on the market and used in significant amounts for a relatively 
short time.  Since I'm seeing a large number of serious health 
problems caused or contributed to by aspartame and since the NIH has 
not been willing to fund independent researchers (and some of them 
literally begged the U.S. Congress to pressure for funding to no 
avail), I plan to let people know of the dangers, especially the
long-term dangers.

Aspartame certainly has not been demonstrated to be safe for medium- 
or long-term use.  The brain cancer issue has never been fully 
addressed.  Many of the industry "studies" represent an abuse of the 
scientific method in my opinion (or as one author put it, "torturing
the ethics of science.").

>Your argument that aspartame is metabolized partially into methanol may be
>true, but since so little aspartame is ingested, typically, there is very
>little methanol released, certainly far below a therapeutic range where it
>would have any appreciable effects.

I have never seen the word "therapeutic" used with methanol.  I 
assume you are using that term to mean a "pharmacological effect"?

Methanol is extremely poisonous to humans, so only a tiny amount 
ingested on a regular basis represents a hazard.  When you talk about 
methanol hazards, however, it is crucial to discuss the 
difference between acute toxicity (i.e., immediate poisoning) and 
chronic toxicty (i.e., slow, cumulative poisoning).  You will find 
that all of the NutraSweet-industry research obscures the issue of 
methanol poisoning by discussing level of methanol needed for acute 

Not only is it important to consider chronic toxicity, but it is also 
important to consider synergistic effect of aspartame's breakdown 
products.  I wonder what the effects would be by giving a person 
formaldehyde (methanol metabolite) and, say, an excitotoxic amino 
acid such as glutamic acid or aspartic acid (every day for a 

>At the very least, provide the AMOUNT of methanol released with
>injestion of a normal dose of aspartame (2 grams) so that people can properly
>evaluate your hypothesis (along with a literature reference).

A 2-liter bottle of diet beverage (the size of a 2 "Big Gulp's")
contains 1100-1200 mg of aspartame (unless it is diet orange which
contains as much as 2000 mg of aspartame).  This is not a 
ridiculously large amount of aspartame to consume as many people have 
posted to various groups (e.g., sci.med.nutrition) that they consume 
at least this much per day in various forms (soda, cereal, or any one 
of thousands of other "food" products). The amount of methanol
released is about 10% of the aspartame or 110-120 mg (<= 200 mg for 
diet orange).

Ingesting that much aspartame per day is the same amount of methanol
that a 30 kg child would get by working 26+ hours per week at a
methanol-laden printing shop or chemical plant.  In order to judge 
the "safety" of such lifelong exposure to methanol (without considering 
possible synergic negative effects from other aspartame metabolites), 
one has too look at the long-term studies with methanol and *human 
beings*.  I do not think that methanol is the only problem with 
aspartame, however.

I would be happy to discuss references for particular issues.  Each 
breakdown product of aspartame is a complicated issue (at least for me
-- a non-scientist), so I wrote up a review with some references on 
my web page in case you're interested.  I also have a few sample 
adverse reactions as well.  If you don't have access to the web, I'd 
be happy to send it to you for your reivew.  (It's still in draft 
form, but it's intelligable -- I think).

Best Wishes,
                             - Mark
                          mgold at tiac.net

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