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(25) Nutra Sweet" is bad for you—not!

From the Council of the Blind:

An "article" attributed to Nancy Markle containing allegations about aspartame has recently been circulating on the Internet.

One of the symptoms she and her "sources" have attributed to aspartame have been substantiated in any clinical scientific study. We'd like to take this opportunity to respond to these egregious allegations and assure you that aspartame is not associated with any adverse effects.
Let us first look at the components of NutraSweet and how our body metabolizes these components. NutraSweet is our company's brand name for the sweetener aspartame. Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, aspartic acid and the methyl ester of phenylalanine. When aspartame is digested, it yields 10% methanol by weight. What aspartame critics fail to mention, however, is that many commonly consumed beverages and foods yield methanol upon digestion. The body then converts the methanol to formaldehyde which is instantly converted to a metabolite called formate. Formate is then quickly eliminated by the body in the form of carbon dioxide and water. Most of us are unaware of the daily processes our bodies go through to digest the various foods we consume. Methanol is an abundant, naturally occurring compound found in such foods as fruits and fruit juices. For example, four to five times more methanol is obtained from a serving of tomato juice than from an equivalent volume of beverage sweetened with aspartame.

Second, the assertion that aspartame is "especially deadly for diabetics," is a dangerous fabrication. There is no question that aspartame has been beneficial to people with diabetes. It has allowed them to comply with a balanced diet and still enjoy the sweet foods those without diabetes take for granted. In fact, a national survey found that 86% of adults with diabetes use low-calorie, sugar-free foods and beverages. And, the American Diabetes Association has stated publicly that aspartame is a safe sugar substitute for those with diabetes.

Third, the comments about multiple sclerosis (MS) and systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), and Alzheimer's Disease being linked to aspartame are especially outrageous. No one knows what causes these sad diseases, but they existed many, many years before aspartame came to the market. There has been no "epidemic." To frighten individuals (or family members) with such alarming and unsubstantiated statements is unconscionable.

Finally, is the assertion that aspartame is even partially the cause of Desert Storm Syndrome. The so-called Desert Storm Syndrome has baffled scientists at the Institute of Medicine, Department of Defense, and half a dozen medical schools. In all probability, it represents a constellation of signs, symptoms, and possible causes. Thus far, it has been suggested that inhalation of toxic oil fumes and/or administration of anti-poisonous gas drugs and/or exposure to toxic agents and/or inoculation with various anti-bacterial vaccines, etc. may be the cause(s).

Since 1965, aspartame has been studied extensively, resulting in an impressive collection of scientific data. With approximately 200 studies conducted in humans and animals, the safety of aspartame has been well established. The results of these scientific documentation have shown that eating products sweetened with aspartame is no different from eating other foods, thus demonstrating that aspartame is not associated with adverse health effects.

It is unfortunate that the Internet's remarkable capacity to transmit information is being so abused. The "electronic publication" of this kind of "scientific" misinformation - material that has not been subject to the scrutiny of rigorous peer review such as occurs in scientific periodicals - constitutes a risk to those less well-informed about an issue, who may have great difficulty in distinguishing scientific fact from fiction. Under our First Amendment, anyone can proclaim "the earth is flat," while the scientific evidence proves the earth is round. In a similar vein, one can claim that aspartame is not safe, while overwhelming scientific proof establishes that, indeed, it is safe. Noisy, outrageous assertions without substantiating data do not constitute truth. 

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