The truth about diet cola, Anastasia Stephens, (London) Evening Standard 2005.01.18: Patrick Holford: Rich Murray aspartame research review
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Wed Jan 19 02:10:43 EST 2005
The truth about diet cola, Anastasia Stephens, (London) Evening Standard
2005.01.18: Patrick Holford: Rich Murray aspartame research review
editor at thisislondon.co.uk
This is LONDON 18/01/05 - London Cuts section
The truth about diet cola By Anastasia Stephens, Evening Standard
Celebrity Big Brother housemate John McCririck loves Diet Coke. But is it
really good for him?
OF THE two standard sweeteners added to diet drinks, aspartame - which is
200 times sweeter than sugar but contains just 0.2 calories per tablet - has
sparked the most health fears. In the body, aspartame releases aspartic acid
and phenylalanine - substances that stimulate nerves. Some research is said
to link it to anxiety and fatigue.
Even without sugar, people may crave diet drinks for their stimulant effect
(the caffeine content in cola is a stimulant). Aspartame and acesulfame K,
which is 130 times sweeter than sugar with almost no calories, may make
people more alert and active.
"Aspartame can be overstimulating to the brain," says nutritionist Patrick
Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. "We have seen
people in our clinics who thought they were going crazy with anxiety,
insomnia and disordered thinking magically recover when they stopped having
The makers of aspartame say their product is a safe sweetening ingredient,
as confirmed by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food, and
is not linked with any adverse effect or conditions.
FIZZY drinks, even diet varieties, may put your bones at risk, according to
several studies. The culprit is thought to be the high levels of phosphoric
acid - diet colas contain 27-39 mg of phosphoric acid per 100 ml.
One study found that girls who consumed carbonated beverages had a threefold
increase in risk of fracture. Another study at Tufts University in the US fo
und that women drinking cola regularly had significantly lower bone density
than those who didn't.
"We think the problem is that these drinks contain phosphoric acid without
any calcium," says Katherine Tucker, associate professor of nutritional
epidemiology, who conducted the study. "In the body, these two substances
need to be balanced. If you take in phosphoric acid alone, the extra
phosphorus binds with calcium and prevents it from being absorbed."
FIZZY drinks contain other acids such as citric acid, malic acid and
tartaric acid. The acidity may aggravate stomach ulcers and leach minerals
from teeth. "People think that just because they're drinking a sugar-free
drink, it's safe for teeth," says Dr Mervyn Druian, a north London dentist
and member of the British Dental Association. "That's not true. Sugar causes
caries but acid leaches minerals from teeth. Once the erosion wears away all
the enamel, it exposes the soft tissue underneath. This can be prone to
Research at Birmingham University has found that fizzy drinks are the
biggest factor in causing dental erosion.
Diet cola drinks all contain E150d, a caramel colouring. Drinks such as Diet
Irn Bru contain Sunset Yellow (E110) and Ponceau 4R (E124). These
colourings, particularly the last two, have been associated with hyperactive
behaviour and attention deficit in children.
One study by the UK's Asthma and Allergy Research Centre found that 25 per
cent of toddlers developed temper tantrums and disruptive behaviour when
given a mix of commonly used colourings within the recommended safety
ALMOST all diet fizzy drinks contain the preservative sodium benzoate
(E211). Several studies have linked this to allergic reactions and
hyperactive behaviour in children.
THE TOOTH DECAY CHALLENGE
MOST people know the trick - leave a tooth in a glass of cola overnight and
see what happens. In the morning the hard white tooth has turned brown and
spongy. But what happens to a tooth when put in diet cola?
I dropped a tooth into a Diet Coke-filled glass on Saturday night, the next
morning, it had turned from an ivory colour to a mottled brown.
By Sunday morning, most of the tooth had turned dark brown. It felt softer
and when I scratched the surface, the brown layer and some paler looking
enamel came off onto my hand.
Find this story at
©2005 Associated New Media
Name: Katherine Tucker, Ph.D.
Title: Sr Scientist
Office: HNRC-711 Washington St Boston
Phone: (617) 556-3351 (HNRC)
Fax: (617) 556-3344
Email Address: katherine.tucker at tufts.edu
Primary Affiliation: Staff
Other Affiliations: Clinical Faculty
MY PROFILE [ photo ]
Patrick Holford is a leading light in new approaches to health and
nutrition. He started his academic career in the field of psychology. While
completing his bachelor's degree in Experimental Psychology at the
University of York he researched the role of nutrition in mental health and
illness and later tested the effects of improved nutrition on children's
IQ - an experiment that was the subject of a Horizon documentary and led to
his first UK TV appearance in 1987.
In 1984 he founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION), a charitable
and independent educational trust for the furtherance of education and
research in nutrition, now the largest training school in Europe for
nutrition consultants and widely respected as a leading edge organisation by
professionals and media alike.
Through his work in the field of nutrition and the media he has helped to
establish the concept of 'Optimum Nutrition' and promote the role nutrition
plays in promoting health, covering a wide range of issues from arthritis to
During the last decade he has written 26 books on the subject, selling over
a million copies worldwide. His books include the best-selling Optimum
Nutrition Bible, 100% Health, Balancing Hormones Naturally, Boost Your
Immune System, Say No To Heart Disease, The 30 Day Fatburner Diet, The Whole
Health Manual, Optimum Nutrition, The Better Pregnancy Diet, The Energy
Equation, How To Protect Yourself from Pollution, Say No to Arthritis,
Living Food, Say No to Cancer and Mental Health & Illness-The Nutrition
Patrick Holford is one of Britain's leading spokesmen on nutrition and
health issues, often writing for and being quoted by major national
publications. He frequently appears on radio and television on topical
nutrition, food, environmental and health issues, both as a presenter,
interviewer and as a guest.
His knowledge, personality and enthusiasm, together with his strong
scientific approach helps him to stimulate lively debates, simplifying
complex issues and helping viewers to expand their understanding of health
He also lectures throughout the world on a wide range of topics to the
public and health professionals. In the UK alone he presents around 30
workshops and lectures a year.
Copyright © 2000 HealthCo Ltd. All rights reserved.
Institute for Optimum Nutrition
13 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU
Tel: 020 8877 9993 Fax: 020 8877 9980 http://www.ion.ac.uk
Best time to telephone: 9am - 5.30pm (Mon - Fri) (Thursdays 9am - 8.30pm)
ION was founded in 1984, is a charitable and independent educational trust
for the furtherance of education and research in nutrition, now the largest
training school in the UK for nutrition consultants and widely respected as
a leading edge organisation by professionals and media alike.
Nutritional Therapy Clinic: for one - one consultations with a trained
nutritional therapist affording the client with a tailor made nutritional
programme to support their lifestyle and or medical needs.
Training Clinics: As Therapy Clinics but conducted by a trained ION student
in order to build up practical experience. A tutor or DipION nutritional
Therapist supervises these consultations. Greatly reduced consultation fee.
Course:Three Year Nutritional Therapy Diploma Course (NTDC), Home Study,
Lectures and Workshops.
Publications:Optimum Nutrition Journal. A comprehensive nutrition journal
published three times a year. Covering a broad range of subjects on food,
nutrition, dietary supplements, and many other themes relating to natural
health. Written by health professionals, these articles offer information
based on both current research and in many cases, practical experience as
well. Benefits both health professionals and laypersons.
Membership: Entitles you to discounts on books, supplements, videos through
the NUTRI Centre, discounts on ION courses and lectures, access to ION's
library and research facilities plus free subscription to "Optimum
Checked: July 2004
Recent published papers include:
. ONUK Survey, ION, 2004
. 'Indices of Pyridoxine Levels on Symptoms Associated with Toxicity: A
Retrospective Study' A.N. Chaudary; A. Porter-Blake; P. Holford.
Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Second Quarter 2003; Vol 18 No 2; pp
. 'Vitamin B6: Extract of Submission to the UK's Food Standards Agency' P.
Holford, B.Sc.; S. Heaton, B.Sc. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Third &
Fourth Quarters 2003; Vol 18 No's 3 & 4: 161
. 'Depression: the nutrition connection'. P Holford. Primary Care Mental
Health (2003) 1: 9-16
. 'Alzheimer's and Dementia: the nutrition connection'. P Holford. Primary
Care Mental Health (2004); 2: 5-12
. 'Food for thought - and feelings: nutrition's role in restoring mental
health' Human Givens. Winter 2003; Vol 9 No 4.
Mervyn Druian, BDS [ photo ] mervken at aol.com
The London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry
93 Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4RL
Telephone: Tel: 020 7722 1235 or 020 7586 7237
methanol (formaldehyde, formic acid) disposition: Bouchard M et al, full
plain text, 2001: substantial sources are degradation of fruit pectins,
liquors, aspartame, smoke: Murray 2005.01.18 rmforall
An earnest medical layman, I have been writing careful reviews of mostly
mainstream medical research on aspartame toxicity for six years.
In recent months I have become aware that evidence strongly shows that
substantial methanol and thus formaldehyde and formic acid are released into
humans from degradation of the pectins from fruits and vegetables by
bacteria in the colon in many people. Whatever the source, the biochemical
dispositions of methanol and its inevitable products, formaldehyde and
formic acid, both potent, cumulative toxins, are actually largely unknown,
according to the expert comprehensive review by Bouchard M et al, 2001.
"Experimental studies on the detailed time profiles following controlled
repeated exposures to methanol are lacking."
"Thus, in monkeys and plausibly humans, a much larger fraction of body
formaldehyde is rapidly converted to unobserved forms rather than passed on
to formate and eventually CO2."
"However, the volume of distribution of formate was larger than that of
methanol, which strongly suggests that formate distributes in body
constituents other than water, such as proteins."
Their comprehensive review shows that there is little information about the
details of methanol (formaldehyde and formic acid) dispositions in humans
for long-term, chronic exposures. Their full text is given later in this
Research on hangovers, largely caused by the conversion of methanol impurity
in alcohol drinks into formaldehyde after about eight hours, after most of
the ethanol has been eliminated, shows that a quarter to a half of those who
get inebriated do not get hangovers. This shows very large individual
variation in vulnerability to formaldehyde toxicity, so as a corollary,
probably there will be many who are not markedly vulnerable to aspartame.
I suggest that natural selection has given humans complex biochemical
systems to store the large amounts of formaldehyde generated from pectins
and to use them to attack pathogens. So far, I have not found any strong
research to support this hypothesis. I hope to write a useful summary
in the next few weeks.
There are many substances, such as folic acid, that protect against
EPA Preliminary Remedial Goals (PRG) 2003 Oct, air and tap water --
methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid -- sources omitted are methanol from
aspartame, dark wines and liquors, fruit pectins: Murray 2005.01.18 rmforall
Nurses Health Study can quickly reveal the extent of aspartame (methanol,
formaldehyde, formic acid) toxicity: Murray 2004.11.21 rmforall
The Nurses Health Study is a bonanza of information about the health of
probably hundreds of nurses who use 6 or more cans daily of diet soft
drinks -- they have also stored blood and tissue samples from their immense
pool of subjects.
Dark wines and liquors, as well as aspartame, provide similar levels of
methanol, above 100 mg daily, for long-term heavy users. Methanol is
inevitably largely turned into formaldehyde, and thence largely into formic
acid. Both products are toxic, and at this level of use, about 2 L daily,
almost six 12-oz cans of diet drink, are above recent lifetime EPA [ PRG ]
safety limits in tap water for methanol and formaldehyde of respectively,
for a 60 kg person, 30 mg and 9 mg daily.
The immediate health effects for dark wines and liquors are the infamous
"morning after" hangover, for which many informed experts cite as the major
cause the conversion of the methanol impurity, over one part in ten thousand
(red wine has 128 mg/L methanol), into formaldehyde and formic acid.
Everyone knows the complex progression of symptoms at this level of
long-term, chronic toxicity.
Aspartame reactors have a very similar progression.
If 1% of all people exposed to alcohol and/or aspartame are heavy users with
symptoms, then there would easily be about 2 million cases in the USA alone.
This is a public health emergency.
At the very least, professionals and the public should be alerted to
investigate their own exposure, and be given a chance to try a very safe,
simple, inexpensive treatment for complex, intractable, progressive
symptoms -- reducing or eliminating their intake.
There are as well, many safe substances that prevent or treat the
toxicities -- for example, high folic acid levels expedite the elimination
These toxicities are largely uncontrolled co-factors that affect every
disease and must confuse and impede many health research programs on all
People in high-pressure, critical occupations, such as pilots, nuclear plant
operators, and national leaders, should certainly be alerted.
Also, two careful studies show substantial methanol release from degradation
of pectins by bacteria in the colon from fruits and vegetables -- a topic
that deserves careful, thorough research.
Due to my bias, based on detailed reviews by Monte WC (1984) and by Mark D.
Gold (2003), for months I have been discounting the startlingly high
methanol levels reported in the abstract for Lindinger W (1997). I have
been reducing the values in their abstract from g to mg, an unwarrented
"correction" by a factor of a thousand, only to find that the full text
study and their many related studies supply expert, robust results:
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1997 Aug; 21(5): 939-43.
Endogenous production of methanol after the consumption of fruit.
Lindinger W, Taucher J, Jordan A, Hansel A, Vogel W.
Institut fur Ionenphysik, Leopold Franzens Universitat Innsbruck, Austria.
After the consumption of fruit, the concentration of methanol in the human
body increases by as much as an order of magnitude.
This is due to the degradation of natural pectin (which is esterified with
methyl alcohol) in the human colon.
In vivo tests performed by means of proton-transfer-reaction mass
spectrometry show that consumed pectin in either a pure form (10 to 15 g)
or a natural form (in 1 kg of apples) induces a significant increase of
methanol in the breath (and by inference in the blood) of humans.
The amount generated from pectin (0.4 to 1.4 g)
is approximately equivalent to the total daily endogenous production
(measured to be 0.3 to 0.6 g/day)
or that obtained from 0.3 liters of 80-proof brandy
(calculated to be 0.5 g). [ 1667 mg methanol per liter of brandy ]
This dietary pectin may contribute to the development
of nonalcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. PMID: 9267548
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Oct; 19(5): 1147-50.
Methanol in human breath.
Taucher J, Lagg A, Hansel A, Vogel W, Lindinger W.
Institut fur Ionenphysik, Universitat Innsbruck, Austria.
Using proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry for trace gas analysis of
the human breath, the concentrations of methanol and ethanol have been
measured for various test persons consuming alcoholic beverages and various
amounts of fruits, respectively.
The methanol concentrations increased from a natural (physiological) level
of approximately 0.4 ppm up to approximately 2 ppm a few hours after eating
about 1/2 kg of fruits,
and about the same concentration was reached after drinking of 100 ml brandy
containing 24% volume of ethanol and 0.19% volume of methanol.
[ 24 ml = 61 g ethanol, and 0.19 ml = 0.34 g = 340 mg methanol ]
I urge Channing Laboratory and its participating universities to rapidly
mount an in-house study to study the Nurses Health Study database for the
hundreds of nurses who are long-term users, above 6 cans diet drinks daily,
for correlations with every disease, as well as ubiquitous co-factors like
wine and liquor, cigarette smoke, and fruits and vegetables. It could
vastly serve the world public health to make the initial findings widely
available immediately. The disparaged issue of aspartame toxicity could be
swiftly made legitimate, and the resulting progress on all levels remarkably
A single scientist could do this.
Comments pro and con are welcome. A convenient venue would be the moderated
newsgroup: bionet.toxicology .
Rich Murray, MA Room For All rmforall at comcast.net
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 USA 505-501-2298
139 members, 1,147 posts in a public searchable archive
safety of aspartame Part 1/2 12.4.2: EC HCPD-G SCF:
Murray 2003.01.12 rmforall EU Scientific Committee on Food, a whitewash
Mark Gold exhaustively critiques European Commission Scientific
Committee on Food re aspartame ( 2002.12.04 ): 59 pages, 230 references
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