5 critical Rapid Responses to Aspartame and its effects on health, Michael E J Lean and Catherine R Hankey, BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756: Murray 2004.10.05

Rich Murray rmforall at att.net
Wed Oct 6 22:03:51 EST 2004

5 critical Rapid Responses to Aspartame and its effects on health, Michael E
J Lean and Catherine R Hankey, BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756: Murray 2004.10.05


Rapid Responses to:
Michael E J Lean and Catherine R Hankey
Aspartame and its effects on health
BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756 [Full text]
Rapid Responses: Submit a response to this article

Rapid Responses published:
 Fluoride Deficiency Non-Existent
Carol S. Kopf, BS, MA   (1 October 2004)
 Aspartame Can Damage Your Health
Joseph M Mercola   (3 October 2004)
 It's not just misleading websites that the public should be protected from
John P Briffa   (3 October 2004)
 Aspartame Dangers ARE Real
Dr. Janet S Hull   (3 October 2004)
 Aspartame - balanced and impartial editorials please
Ian J Gordon   (4 October 2004)

Fluoride Deficiency Non-Existent 1 October 2004

Carol S. Kopf, BS, MA,
writer 11756 Send response to journal: Re: Fluoride Deficiency Non-Existent

Email Carol S. Kopf, BS, MA   fluoride at optonline.net

Re: Aspartame and its effects on health BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756 by Lean and

Lean and Hankey state what so many assume, wrongly - that fluoride
deficiency leads to tooth decay.

"...it must be acknowledged that a lack of fluoride does not cause dental
caries," according to "Effective use of fluorides for the prevention of
dental caries in the 21st century: the WHO approach," in Community Dentistry
and Oral Epidemiology (2004;32:319-21).

The United States Centers for Disease Control says that fluoride's
non-adverse effects occur topically after teeth erupt and that "The
prevalence of dental caries in a population is not inversely related to the
concentration of fluoride in enamel, and a higher concentration of enamel
fluoride is not necessarily more efficacious in preventing dental caries."

Fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Optimal dosage is based on belief.(2)


1) Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries
in the United States, August 2001,

2) National Research Council (1993). Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride.
National Academy Press, Washington DC. See page 30

Competing interests: None declared

Aspartame Can Damage Your Health 3 October 2004

Joseph M Mercola, Medical director Optimal Wellness Center
Schaumburg, IL 60194

Send response to journal: Re: Aspartame Can Damage Your Health

Email Joseph M Mercola   support at mercola.com Your editorial fails to address
the reasons why aspartame has been "demonized". Since at least 2/3 of adults
currently consume aspartame this is a serious issue.
Although aspartame contains two amino acids it is not a natural substance.
It was originally developed as a drug to treat peptic ulcers. We were not
designed to be exposed to large amounts of isolated free form amino acids.
Free form aspartic acid is a damaging neuro excitotoxin mediated through
NMDA receptors (1).

While it is true that phenylalanine is an essential amino acid it is rarely
consumed in nature as a free from amino acid or in large doses. In 1987 it
was calculated that nearly 4 million kg of phenylalanine were introduced
annually into the food supply as aspartame. The consequences of flooding the
brain with phenylalanine are profound as it serves as a precursor for two
major neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine. The altered amino acid
ratios can modify tryptophan concentrations and secondarily serotonin
levels. This can lead to seizures, confusion, erratic behaviors, depression
and other neuropsychiatric disturbances.

Interestingly, the FDA regards adverse reactions like seizures to products
containing aspartame as only anecdotal idiosyncrasies that do not have to be
reported because of aspartame's Generally Recognized as Safe classification.
The methyl ester joining aspartic acid and phenylalanine is metabolized to a
two potent neurotoxins methanol and formaldehyde. This is not insignificant
as the digestion of aspartame yields 10% methanol by weight.

Additionally, the vast majority of the flawed "scientific" studies used to
support the safety of aspartame products were funded by the manufacturer.
The shortcomings variously pertain to the materials used, the amounts of
administration, the nature of control subjects, the duration of such
studies, the contents of presumed placebos and the arbitrary interpretation
of results.

1. Obrenovitch TP Adv Exp Med Biol. 2003; 527: 147-54.

Competing interests: None declared

It's not just misleading websites that the public should be protected from
3 October 2004

John P Briffa, Doctor and Health Writer
Woolaston House, 25 Southwood Lane, Highgate, London N6 5ED

Send response to journal: Re: It's not just misleading websites that the
public should be protected from

Email John P Briffa   drjbriffa at aol.com

I was surprised by much of the content of Professor Lean and Catherine
Hankey's editorial on the effects of aspartame and health (1). It starts
with an incomplete description of aspartame's components: aspartame is not
only composed of two amino acids (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) but
methanol also. This is crucially important as methanol has toxic potential
and may also be converted to formaldehyde within the body (2). It has been
demonstrated in animals that low level ingestion of aspartame can lead to
formaldehyde accumulation in the various parts of the body including the
liver and brain (3). In addition, several human studies have found that
chronic, low-level formaldehyde exposure has been linked with a variety of
health issues including headaches (4,5,6), fatigue (4,5), chest tightness
(4), dizziness, nausea and lack of concentration (6), seizures and
neurobehavioural impairment (7). Long- term studies into the effects of
ingestion of aspartame or its components in humans have not been done. Until
they are, it seems premature to conclude that aspartame is safe.

Aspartame's manufacturers and scientific advisors often defend aspartame by
stating that it brings nothing new to the diet, as all of its constituents
(including methanol) are found naturally in the diet. This defence is flawed
in that it presupposes that naturally occurring food constituents can have
no adverse effect on health. Also, it is possible that when found naturally
in food (such as bananas and tomatoes), methanol may be ingested with other
food elements that might protect against toxicity. While this notion may
seem far-fetched to some, an example of it is known in the real World: two
studies suggest that giving beta- carotene in supplement form may increase
risk of lung cancer in smokers, although there appears to be no such
association with dietary beta-carotene.

While the European Scientific Committee Food's 2002 report appears to
exonerate aspartame, the Committee seems to have be ignorant of, ignored, or
dismissed studies which show aspartame might have adverse effects on health.
Such research includes an animal study in which aspartame disrupted brain
chemistry (8). Also, in humans, aspartame was found to induce
neurophysiological changes that might increase seizure risk (9). In
addition, at least one study has linked aspartame use with depression in
individuals susceptible to mood disorder (10). Other studies have linked
aspartame ingestion with headaches (11,12). Other studies that attest to
aspartame's potential for harm can be found in an on-line review (13).

This review is particularly disconcerting as it shows a disparity in the
findings of safety studies which appears to be related to source of study
funding. In this review, studies in peer-reviewed medical or scientific
journals were assessed for funding source and study outcome. Of 166 studies,
74 had at least partial industry-related funding and 92 were
independently-funded. While 100 per cent of industry-funded studies conclude
aspartame is safe, 92 per cent of independently funded research identified
aspartame as a potential cause of adverse effects.

Professor Lean and Ms Hankey speculate on the potential weight loss benefits
of aspartame. Their assessment is largely theoretical based on the potential
for the replacement of sugar with aspartame to bring about caloric deficit.
They acknowledge that the evidence for the weight loss effects of aspartame
is inconclusive. However, they fail to mention studies which have shown that
aspartame ingestion may actually lead to increased food/calorie intake
(14,15). The case for the benefits of aspartame use for weight loss seems to
rest on one relatively short-term, unblinded clinical study in obese women
(16). Men, children and individuals with less extreme weight problems (all
groups of individuals who might be using aspartame for the purposes of
weight loss) were not included in the study.

It is somewhat concerning that, to date, not one single double-blind
placebo-controlled study designed to assess the effects of aspartame on
weight has been published. I'm left wondering why there is such enthusiasm
from some quarters of the nutritional establishment for aspartame in the
diet, bearing in mind the singular lack of evidence that it is efficacious
for the purposes of weight loss.

It seems that the health-related benefits of aspartame are simply unproven,
and that evidence exists which suggests that this novel chemical does have
real potential for harm. The glaring disparity in results between
industry-funded and independently-funded research is clearly of concern.
Professor Lean and Ms Hankey conclude their editorial by suggesting that the
public probably needs protection from misleading websites. However, by the
same token, the public and members of the medical profession should probably
be protected from misleading editorials too.

1. Michael Lean, Catherine Hankey.  Aspartame and its effects on health.
BMJ 2004; 329: 755-756 (2nd October 2004).

2. Kavet R, et al.  The Toxicity of Inhaled Methanol Vapors.
Critical Reviews in Toxicology. 1990; 21(1): 21-50.

3. Trocho C, et al.  Formaldehyde Derived From Dietary Aspartame Binds to
Tissue Components in vivo. Life Sciences. 1998; 63(5): 337.

4. Main DM, et al.  Health Effects of Low-Level Exposure to Formaldehyde.
Journal of Occupational Medicine. 1983; 25: 896-900.

5. Olsen JH, et al.  Formaldehyde induced symptoms in day care centers.
American Industrial Hygeine Association Journal. 1982; 43(5): 366-370.

6. Burdach S, et al.  Damages to health in schools. Complaints caused by the
use of formaldehyde-emitting materials in school buildings.
Fortschritte Med. 1980; 98(11): 379-384.

7. Kilburn KH, et al.  Neurobehavioral and respiratory symptoms of
formaldehyde and xylene exposure in histology technicians.
Arch Env Health. 1985; 40(4): 229-233.

8. Sharma RP, Coulombe RestioA Jr.  Effects of repeated doses of aspartame
on serotonin and its metabolite in various regions of the mouse brain.
Food Chem Toxicol. 1987; 25(8): 565-568.

9. Camfield, PR, et al., Aspartame exacerbates EEG spike-wave discharge in
children with generalized absence epilepsy: a double-blind controlled study.
Neurology, 1992; 42: 1000-1003.

10. Walton RG, et al.  Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind
challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biol Psychiatry. 1993;
34(1-2): 13-17.

11. Van Den Eeden SK, et al.  Aspartame Ingestion and Headaches: A
Randomized, Crossover Trial. Neurology. 1994; 44: 1787-1793.

12. Lipton RB, et al.  Aspartame as a dietary trigger of headache.
Headache. 1989; 29(2): 90-92.

13. http://www.dorway.com/peerrev.html

14. Lavin JH, et al.  The Effect of Sucrose- and Aspartame-Sweetened Drinks
on Energy Intake, Hunger and Food Choice of Female, Moderately Restrained
Eaters Int J Obes. 1997; 21: 37-42.

15. Tordoff MG, Alleva AM.  Oral stimulation with aspartame increases
hunger. Physiol Behav. 1990; 47: 555-559.

16. Blackburn GL, et al. The effect of aspartame as part of a
multidisciplinary weight-control program on short- and long-term control of
body weight.
Am J Clin Nutr. 1997; 65(2): 409-418.

Competing interests: None declared

Aspartame Dangers ARE Real  3 October 2004

Dr. Janet S Hull, Nutritionist/Environmental Engineer/Author
100 E. Louisiana St. Suite3 McKinney, TX 75069

Send response to journal: Re: Aspartame Dangers ARE Real

Email Dr. Janet S Hull   jshull at sweetpoison.com

RE: Aspartame and its effects on health

Thank you for bringing the aspartame issue to the attention of your readers.

Nonetheless, the proper respect and recognition for the consumers who have
suffered medically documented illnesses from aspartame, for the research
scientists at universities in both the U.S. and the U.K. who have documented
the damaging effects of aspartame, and for the mothers of children born with
mental and physical deformities caused by aspartame during pregnancy - well,
they were not properly mentioned in your article.

Yes, aspartame dangers are real and scientifically supported beyond any
reasonable doubt. I provide scientific references and data in my book on
aspartame dangers (Sweet Poison, New Horizon Press) citing scientific
documentation that aspartame, indeed, causes holes in the brains of
laboratory mice, mammary gland tumors and testicular tumors in rats, fetal
deformities, and behavioral disorders. Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D. is
currently connecting aspartame to Multiple Sclerosis. The U.S. government
agencies you cite in your article are clearly documented as "denying"
aspartame approval TWICE before its "questionable" sanction in 1981.

Since aspartame came on the market over twenty years ago, many diseases such
as MS, ALS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, depression, aggression, and, now,
obesity have become epidemic. The answer to these concerns is not more
"toxic brain chemical" use as you suggest, but exactly the opposite -- the
answer is more public "caution" concerning the neuro-excitotoxins in
aspartame and their damaging effects to the brain. Obesity among British and
American children is horrifying and will only worsen if eating chemical
foods and drinking non-nutritive colas is encouraged.
Before you publish your next article discrediting the many brilliant
research scientists, doctors, and responsible consumers informing people of
the dangers of aspartame and other chemical sweeteners -  please, do more
thorough research.

Competing interests: None declared

Aspartame - balanced and impartial editorials please  4 October 2004

Ian J Gordon, Physician in Occupational Medicine
Whiston Hospital, Merseyside L35 5DR

Send response to journal: Re: Aspartame - balanced and impartial editorials

Email Ian J Gordon    ijgord at cwcom.net   ijgord at tesco.net

I would like to ask why the editorial on aspartame went to such lengths to
vindicate the substance without any balanced review of the numerous papers
on its side effects. An editorial should impartially review all aspects of
the current information on a subject and leave it to the reader to decide or
research further. In fact the excellent rapid responses by Mercola, Biffra
and Hull clearly state the other side of the coin.

I am particularly concerned because of personal experience having had a
severe episode of fortification spectra after trying aspartame sweeteners --
the like of which I have never had in 37 years of being a migraine sufferer.
What could the effect be in those with significant cerebrovascular disease?
This substance was approved by the FDA in 1981 because of political
armbending for industrial reasons - not because of safety. I would like to
see another editorial to balance the one by Lean & Hankey as too many
reports of adverse effects exist for this to be dismissed as hypochondriasis
or peoples' resentment of food interference.

Competing interests: None declared

diet soda sweetener aspartame [ NutraSweet, Equal, Canderel, E951, Benevia ]
toxicity warning: Murray 2004.10.05 rmforall

Rich Murray, MA    Room For All    rmforall at comcast.net
1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505 USA  505-501-2298
135 members,  1,120 posts in a public searchable archive

Fully 11% of aspartame is methanol [ wood alcohol ] --  1,120 mg aspartame
in 2 L diet soda, almost six 12-oz cans,  gives 123 mg methanol (wood
alcohol) -- the same amount that produces hangover from red wine.

The methanol is  immediately released into the body after drinking -- 
unlike the large levels of methanol locked up in complex molecules inside
many fruits and vegetables.

Within hours, the body turns much of the methanol into formaldehyde, and
then much of that into formic acid, both of which in time are partially
eliminated as carbon dioxide and water.

This long-term low-level chronic toxic exposure leads to typical patterns of
increasingly severe complex symptoms, starting with headache, fatigue, joint
pain, irritability, memory loss, rashes, and leading to vision and eye
problems, and even seizures. In many cases there is addiction.  Probably
there are immune system disorders, with a hypersensitivity to these toxins
and other chemicals.

Aspartame and its effects on health, Michael E.J. Lean, Catherine R. Hankey,
Glasgow UK, British Medical Journal: 11% methanol component of aspartame,
and same level of methanol in dark wines and liquors, turns to formaldehyde
and formic acid, the main cause of chronic hangover symptoms: Murray
2004.10.04 rmforall

Many scientific studies and case histories report:  * headaches  * many body
and joint pains (or burning, tingling, tremors, twitching, spasms, cramps,
stiffness, numbness, difficulty swallowing)  *  fever, fatigue, swollen
glands  * "mind fog", "feel unreal", poor memory, confusion, anxiety,
irritability, depression, mania, insomnia, dizziness, slurred speech, sexual
problems,  poor vision, hearing (deafness, tinnitus), or taste  * red face,
itching, rashes, allergic dermatitis, hair loss, burning eyes or throat, dry
eyes or mouth, mouth sores, burning tongue  * obesity, bloating, edema,
anorexia, poor appetite or excessive hunger or thirst    * breathing
problems, shortness of breath * nausea, diarrhea or constipation  * coldness
* sweating  * racing heart, low or high blood pressure, erratic blood sugar
levels  * hypothryroidism or hyperthyroidism  * seizures  * birth defects
* brain cancers  * addiction  * aggrivates diabetes, autism, allergies,
lupus, ADHD, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical
sensitivity, multiple sclerosis, pseudotumor cerebri and interstitial
cystitis (bladder pain).

841 members, 17,441 posts in a public, searchable archive
Edward Bryant Holman, Moderator  bryanth at brooksdata.net

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

http://www.HolisticMed.com/aspartame    mgold at holisticmed.com
Aspartame Toxicity Information Center    Mark D. Gold
12 East Side Drive #2-18 Concord, NH 03301     603-225-2110
"Scientific Abuse in Aspartame Research"

http://google.com  gives 245,000 websites for "aspartame" , with the top
7 of 10 listings being anti-aspartame, while
http://groups.google.com  finds on 700 MB of posts from 20 years of
Usenet groups, 99,700 posts, the top 10 being anti-aspartame.
http://news.google.com   recent aspartame items from 4500 sources.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed   lists 769 aspartame items.

Michael E J Lean, professor     fax +44 141 211 4844
Division of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary,
Queen Elizabeth Building, Glasgow G31 2ER, mcmn1h at clinmed.gla.ac.uk

[ In August 2004, he starts a 6-month fellowship from the LeverhulmeTrust
based at the University of Colorado.   http://www.leverhulme.org.uk/
Gilliam Dupin gdupin at leverhulme.ac.uk ]

Catherine R Hankey, lecturer, University Department of Human Nutrition
Division of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary,
Queen Elizabeth Building, Glasgow G31 2ER

[ Dr Catherine R Hankey: Lecturer org unit: Medicine - Developmental
Medicine  C.Hankey at clinmed.gla.ac.uk ;  c.r.hankey at clinmed.gla.ac.uk  ]

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