People who defend Aspartame as being safe miss some important logic…

People who defend Aspartame as being safe miss some important logic…

Here is the Aspartame debate in a nutshell. If you are familiar with the arguments over Aspartame, please continue reading, I think I have found a logical argument that trumps the only argument people have when defending Aspartame.

The evidence for the ‘Aspartame is safe’ side:

Aspartame has been around for almost 30 years, and has been tested independently in hundreds of countries, and every one has found it safe. Science works, Aspartame haters are just conspiracy theorists. You would have to drink 20 cases a day to be in any danger.

The evidence for the ‘Aspartame will kill you’ side:

Well, here is a good article that sums it up nicely. The doctor/author in it says:

I can’t tell you what to think: I can just tell you what I know, and what I recommend to my children.

In 1977, Richard Merrill, who later became dean of the University of Virginia Law School, was the chief counsel of the Food and Drug Administration, and he formally asked the U.S. attorney to convene a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict the producer of aspartame, G.D. Searle, for misrepresenting “findings, concealing material facts and making false statements” in aspartame safety tests.

This is not some left-wing group. This is the actual chief counsel of the FDA asking the U.S. attorney’s office to convene a grand jury. It never happened, because by the time the grand jury was ready to be convened we had a new president. That president was Reagan, and within a month of Reagan taking office, he had a proposal from a guy you might have heard of named Donald Rumsfeld [who was then chief operating officer of Searle].

And Jan. 22, 1981, one day after Reagan’s inauguration — one day — Searle reapplied for FDA approval. Prior to that, every single request for approval was turned down by all the scientists ever looking at the data. That’s a fact. There’s no dispute about that fact. And then, it gets approved May 19, 1981.

Remember what happened with the Reagan revolution? It was: “We need to get the government off our backs.” One of the backs it got off of was suppressing the aspartame industry. Later, many of the people who worked at the FDA to evaluate aspartame ended up going to work for the company producing it.

She then talks about a recent study that shows Aspartame is dangerous. Why would this study be more accurate than the hundreds performed over the years that show Aspartame is safe?

A typical rat study runs two years; that would be getting your rat to about my age: 60. People live now to their 90s. This study started their exposure when they were babies, like what we do now in the United States with aspartame, and let the rats live out their natural lifetimes until they were 3 years old.

And when they did that they found a significant increase in tumors that occurred only in that third year of life. Of course, the European Food Safety Authority, which sounds very independent, says the study is worthless. But I looked up the background on the people involved with the European Food Safety Authority, and many of them work directly for the food industry.

The Ramazzini Foundation, a toxicology institute, which did the study, is not known to be radical. Unlike most other sources of information in toxicology, it’s truly independent. It is not funded by Monsanto. And what they found is that there is significant increase in lymphomas and leukemia, and that the increase comes not from consuming 800 cans of soda a day, but from consuming fairly moderate amounts of aspartame in these animals’ lifetimes. They had 1,800 animals, and some of them were just consuming the equivalent of two cans of soda a day, two yogurts, 10 pieces of chewing gum. And at that level of consumption, there was a significant increase in cancer, and it only showed up in older rats.

This is the point where anyone defending Aspartame says ‘well you can give chocolate to a dog and it will die, testing rats does not prove that it is dangerous to humans’. This is also where people on the other side will usually say just as this author does, that the rats used are actually very close to humans genetically – scientists do not use any old rat, they use a specific rat that most closely matches humans genetically. Still… this could be true, how can we say that something that affects these rats would hurt a human?

This is where my argument comes in, and I wonder why no one ever thinks of it: when we are told Aspartame is safe, it is tested on those very same rats.

Isn’t this odd, and probably cognitive dissonance at work, that people will be quick to point out that testing on rats is not clear proof, and yet we are presented with products every day that are declared ’safe’ because they did not affect these same rats?

The problem is we cannot obviously test anything on humans, so our best alternative is testing on rats.

And here is where the doctor points out the scary part:

We have gone backward since the ’70s. In the ’70s, in the decision on lead in gasoline, the court said we could use experimental evidence that something was a threat to human health in order to prevent harm. The court repeatedly ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could use theories, models and estimates to prevent harm.

Now, we have to prove that harm has already happened before taking action to prevent additional harm. In the area of cancer this is a travesty, since most cancer in adults takes five, 10, 20 or 30 years [to develop]. It means that we have no opportunity to prevent cancer, because we must prove through human evidence that it’s already happened. I think that is fundamentally wrong public policy. Ninety percent of all claims now for toxic torts are denied.

What the court decisions have done is to make the burden of proof close to impossible when it comes to human harm and environmental contamination.

Is it proof that Aspartame is dangerous? I would say no, but is it worth risking? I was really floored when I saw this article on It says “the Center for Science in the Public Interest gave it their lowest ranking in a review of food additives, quoting animal studies in 1970 and in 2007, which suggest that there is a link between aspartame and cancer.”

I quit drinking diet soda after reading these articles. We need to put the burden of proof on those that want to prove something is safe, not those that are trying to show something is dangerous to our health. If you use the argument that ‘testing on rats does not prove anything’ then no chemical we use or eat has ever been proven to be safe for us. Now if I could only afford organic food…



~ by sunil khemaney on November 14, 2008.

2 Responses to “People who defend Aspartame as being safe miss some important logic…”

  1. This post is the same old misleading garbage. Did somebody pay you to post this?

    Aspartame is perfectly safe used as directed in healthy people. First, all the misguided concern about aspartame has been wrongfully created by a combination of errors that started with the original Searle work, were perpetuated by a misguided aspartame internet conspiracy theory, and supported by two also wrongly designed 2006 and 2007 studies. In the eyes of misguided FDA evaluators of the original Searle work, there were tumor concerns evident in the original Searle safety study. Then the internet conspiracy theorists have kept this fable alive for twenty years. But those original results were simply false positives stemming from an error that nobody, even FDA, caught. The Searle work and everything since (including both highly quoted Soffritti et al (that is Rammazini), 2006 and 2007 studies) used a simple, yet wrong experimental design. They used control rats (fed no aspartame) and treated rats (fed different, graded doses of aspartame to get a dose response). The problem with this design is that it is simply improperly balanced. Even a high school science fair student can recognize this fact once it is made clear. Methanol from aspartame degradation is converted to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has long been known to react with and deplete a portion of the vitamin folate in exposed rats, but that issue is resolved if folate is replaced by daily and microgram sustenance supplements. But this degradation of folate only happens in the treated animals, because only they get the aspartame source of the methanol. Control animals were not given equivalent methanol. The consequence is that only the rats receiving the aspartame will show a dose-dependent increase not in tumors arising from aspartame, but from a dose-dependent induction of folate deficiency induced tumors. Proper design would involve feeding folate supplements; it would best have used three groups, control rats, aspartame treated rats, and folate supplemented, aspartame treated rats. This design would not have given rise to tumors, because the rats would not have been depleted of folate, which causes exactly those tumor types reported in the 2006 and 2007 lifetime exposures.

    Second, all the matter above deals with the rat experimental studies, but there is another totally separate issue, human safety. That issue only exists because of the false claims that aspartame causes problems including tumors in humans. In a corollary of the first line, the fact of the matter is that many people in this country are not healthy; they are intrinsically susceptible to a natural cause of tumors that internet conspirators have wrongly attributed to aspartame. Many people, particularly women, are deficient in this vitamin (folate) and some are seriously deficient in it. The “health weight” trend not to eat sweet rolls, doughnuts and other grain products that have been fortified with folate since 1998 only worsens the underlying problem. Still others have biochemical issues with their folate processing enzymes called polymorphisms that raise their susceptibility to folate deficiency. Widespread folate deficiency, not aspartame, is the real problem causing much of the tumors and cancers epidemic in America today. And alcohol abuse by women is a major factor in increased folate deficiency and contributes greatly to the incidence of breast cancer today.

    There have recently been calls for a second round of grain product fortification to again overcome these problems. But the only real solution to the many folate deficiency linked tumors is use of folate supplements. Folate is made not by us, but by bacteria in our gut; given even a folate rich diet (“healthy living”), we simply cannot make sufficient folate to prevent the widespread occurrence of disease associated with folate deficiency. Then, many dietary substances including antibiotics, abusive levels of ethanol, and many commonly used pharmaceuticals (antiepileptic and others) adversely affect either folate or the bugs that generate the folate; they only make us more deficient.

    (Information detailing the fatal error in all rat aspartame research is new. It was presented in March, 2008 at the national Society of Toxicology meeting in Seattle and in April (2008) at the Agriculture & Food Chemistry section of the national American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans).

    John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)
    (FYI, I have absolutely no financial or biasing connection with the aspartame, the soft drink or related industries. However, I am just tired of people who have no understanding of the the sciences of pharmacology and toxicology trying to pass judgment by hearsay on something that they know nothing about.)

  2. To anyone reading this, it’s worth searching Google for Dr. Garth. Among other things, you’ll find this blog post:

    It seems he doesn’t do anything else but go around everywhere aspartame is criticised and leave pretty much the same comments. He doesn’t answer any questions like who he works for or what his ties are to the companies involved in aspartame manufacture and marketing. Beyond apparently once being an editor for an Animal Sciences journal, he has no obvious professional credentials visible online. It’s also pretty easy to find people that disagree with him.

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