New Research Links Nutrasweet to Leukemia and Lymphoma

aspartame, NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, Equal-Measure, artificial sweeteners, sugar, sweetsThe European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced in April that, “there is no indication of any genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of aspartame.” But in fact, aspartame is an addictive, excitoneurotoxic, genetically engineered carcinogen.

In 2005, a rigorous three year study on 1,800 rats concluded that aspartame causes significant increases in lymphoma and leukemia and is a multi-potential carcinogen. EFSA invented “deficiencies” in the study. But a second study entirely verified the first one. Dr. Morando Soffritti, who led both projects, noted that so much formaldehyde developed in aspartame-exposed rats that their skin turned yellow.

The U.S. FDA approved aspartame as a synthetic sweetener in 1981. However, studies given to the FDA by the manufacturer hid the fact the poison caused tumors in lab rats.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It is one of the first generations of artificial sweeteners and is 180 times sweeter than sugar. It is also one of the most dangerous chemicals that should never have been allowed in food.

At the end of 2008, aspartame was found in over 6,000 products; everything from soft drinks to frozen desserts, yoghurt and chewable vitamins. Products containing aspartame are sold in over 100 countries and are consumed by over 250 million people worldwide.

Slick marketing of products containing aspartame by giants in the food industry -- especially marketing that sends the message it’s healthy to consume these products – have been brainwashing and lulling consumers into a false sense of security for decades.

Making matters worse, the very agencies that are supposed to protect you are vested in maintaining this deception. Loads of money and political careers are at stake here.

The Fraudulent Approval of a Toxin

The tale of how aspartame got to market is a disturbing one. The approval process for aspartame was riddled with scandal, bribes and other shady dealings within the pharmaceutical industry, large American corporations, and the FDA.

Initially, the FDA actually denied the approval of aspartame due to:

  • Flawed data
  • Brain tumor findings in animal studies
  • Lack of studies on humans to determine longer-term effects

Unfortunately, despite these valid concerns, including evidence of its neurotoxicity, aspartame was successfully pushed through to the market by heavy financial investment and political clout.

G.D. Searle spent tens of millions of dollars to conduct the necessary approval tests on aspartame. Not surprisingly, studies funded by Searle and other groups with a financial interest in aspartame found no adverse health effects. However, independent studies showed that the converse was true.

Test subjects in studies that were not tainted by conflict of interest did indeed suffer health problems.

Aspartame – Embalming the Living

As described in the article above, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced on April 20, 2009:

“… on the basis of all the evidence currently available including the [second] published ERF study there is no indication of any genotoxic or carcinogenic potential of aspartame and that there is no reason to revise the previously established ADI (allowable daily intake) for aspartame of 40mg/kg bw/day.”

It boggles my mind to try to understand how anyone could come to this conclusion in the face of available evidence spanning more than 25 years.

EFSA claims that the 2005 study by the Ramazzini Foundation (which concluded that aspartame causes significant increases in lymphomas/leukemias and is a multi-potential carcinogen) was “deficient.”

They even dismissed the second study, performed by the same team in 2007, which showed that the aspartame-exposed rats developed so much formaldehyde in their bodies that their skin turned yellow.

It is this formation of formaldehyde that is the link between aspartame and lymphoma and leukemia. It is well known aspartame turns into wood alcohol when it is consumed, however, few people realize this wood alcohol morphs into formaldehyde – the same stuff used for embalming – in the cells of your body.

Formaldehyde is a Class 1 cancer-causing agent, responsible for everything from sick house syndrome to birth defects, and research shows it causes lymphoma and leukemia in both lab rats and humans.

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency (EPA) listed formaldehyde as a “probable human carcinogen” as far back as 1987. And in 2004 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified it as a “known human carcinogen” based partly on available research linking it to leukemia.

Aspartame intake has also been shown to increase your risk of breast or prostate cancer. Incidents of both types of cancer have been on the rise at a pace closely associated with the expanding use of aspartame throughout the world.

There are over 900 published studies on the health hazards of aspartame. (You can find a list in the National Library Medicine Index.) So to still insist that aspartame is safe today is a staggering example of coming to the wrong conclusion in the face of a mountain of evidence.

Formaldehyde Created by Aspartame Accumulates in Your Body

As recently as May of this year, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published yet another study confirming the link between formaldehyde exposure and a significantly increased risk of dying from cancers of the blood and lymphatic system.

Industry mouthpieces claim that the formaldehyde formed can be quickly eliminated by your body, but previous research again claims otherwise.

According to a 1998 study in Life Sciences, formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame does bind to tissues and accumulates in various organs such as your liver, brown and white adipose tissues, muscle, brain, cornea and retina.

The researchers stated:

“… regular intake of aspartame may result in the progressive accumulation of formaldehyde adducts. It may be further speculated that the formation of adducts can help to explain the chronic effects aspartame consumption may induce on sensitive tissues such as the brain.

In any case, the possible negative effects that the accumulation of formaldehyde adducts can induce is, obviously, long-term.

The alteration of protein integrity and function may need some time to induce substantial effects. The damage to nucleic acids, mainly to DNA may eventually induce dell death and/or mutations.

… It is concluded that aspartame consumption may constitute a hazard because of its contribution to the formation of formaldehyde adducts.”

Aspartame has Generated Unprecedented Numbers of FDA Complaints

There have been more reports to the FDA for aspartame reactions than for all other food additives combined.

Less than a year after aspartame was granted approval for use in soft drinks in 1983, the FDA had recorded 600 consumer complaints of headaches, dizziness and other health-related reactions from aspartame consumption.

The unprecedented number of complaints caused the FDA to call in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), who concluded that adverse reactions to aspartame were occurring in “unusually sensitive” individuals, but that there was insufficient evidence to prove existence of wide-spread health problems attributable to its consumption.

Health problems initially reported included:

  • Neurological/behavioral symptoms (67 percent), including headaches, dizziness, and mood changes such as depression
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (24 percent)
  • Allergic type and/or dermatologic symptoms (15 percent)
  • Alterations in menstrual patterns (6 percent)
  • Other symptoms of various types (9 percent)

Today, there are some 10,000 documented reports of adverse reactions to aspartame, including death. But since it is estimated only about one percent of people who experience a reaction report it, it is safe to assume at least a million people have had a reaction to this chemical.

Migraines are by far the most frequently reported reaction. Other commonly reported symptoms of an aspartame reaction include:

change in vision convulsions and seizures
sleep problems/insomnia change in heart rate
hallucination abdominal cramps/pain
memory loss rash
nausea and vomiting fatigue and weakness
dizziness/poor equilibrium diarrhea
hives joint pain

Are Your Health Problems Related to Aspartame Consumption?

You might not realize you’re having a reaction to aspartame. In fact, most people don’t make the connection, and a tremendous amount of time and money is spent by aspartame “reactors” (people sensitive to the chemical), trying to find out why they are sick.

To determine if you’re having an adverse reaction to aspartame, take the following steps:

  1. Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for one to two weeks.

    (Note: If you typically consume aspartame in caffeinated drinks, you’ll want to gradually reduce your intake in order to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms.)
  2. After one to two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce aspartame or other artificial sweetener in a significant quantity (at least three servings daily) and avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.
  3. Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.
  4. If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing aspartame, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate aspartame acutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run by this chemical and its breakdown products.

Do Your Health a Favor, Opt for Natural Flavors

I can’t overstate the importance of avoiding aspartame to your short- and long-term health, the quality of your life, and the lives of your loved ones. I hope you’ll take this information to heart and eliminate aspartame and other artificial sweeteners from your diet.

You can read more about aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in my comprehensive book, Sweet Deception, as well as in the outstanding book by H.J. Roberts, Aspartame Disease – An Ignored Epidemic.

I also highly recommend watching the excellent documentary Sweet Misery.

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to any aspartame product, call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area.

+ Sources and References
  • May 27, 2009