Are we the real lab rats?
We get many questions here at DORway, and we try to answer as many as we can. But along with those serious questions, we get our share of finger pointing. This article is our response, as well as an attempt to answer some of the questions you’re thinking, but haven’t asked. Hopefully, the following will provide some answers and possibly create some new questions.
Is aspartame poisoning an urban myth? Some doctors say so, the FDA says so, and snopes says so. Why would they say it was safe if it wasn’t true?
“Above all else, do no harm.”
Ever hear that phrase? It’s from the Hippocratic Oath. Too bad not all doctors swear in by it any more, and many don’t abide by it. Where medicine is concerned, shouldn’t it be about erring on the safe side and guiding people toward decisions that will better their health rather than harm it? I’m appalled by our legal and health systems, and by those who decide the fates of others without bothering to check the facts.
Consider this: If soy, a product with healthful qualities, can be damaging to your health in larger quantities, how can anyone not question possible harmful effects from a man-made synthetic sweetener that’s now prevalent in more than 10,000 products and drugs?
I just don’t get it.
The FDA says it’s not going to hurt me. Shouldn’t I trust them?
In 1980, the FDA Public Board Of Inquiry voted unanimously to reject the use of aspartame. The short version as to why? (In their words, not mine.)
- Flawed data
- Brain tumor findings in animal studies
- Lack of studies on humans to determine long-term effects
Want the longer version? Read the history timeline here on DORway, then read about the shady way it was approved, including being ramrodded through the approval process by Donald Rumsfeld, who later went to work for the PR firm representing Searle (the company that first marketed the chemical). And if that weren’t enough, the Bressler Report, written by Jerome Bressler (who worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1977), describes numerous instances where Searle was less than forthcoming about reporting negative results. So the FDA allowed Searle to conduct and present their own tests and then to submit the findings of their choice. This, my friends, is a matter of pubic record. It’s a long read, but you can check it out a pdf of the official document here on DORway.
Incidentally, there have still been no studies done on humans to determine long-term effects, but the FDA seems to have conveniently ignored that part of their initial rationale.
So my question is… why should you trust the FDA?
As a last word: To those who feel the FDA would never OK something and then stubbornly refuse to remove it from the marketplace because of the negative financial impact of removing it, I have only one question: Ever hear of cigarettes?
As long as I just stick to the FDA’s acceptable daily intake, I’m cool. I’m not worried.
Really? Do you know what the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of aspartame is? When it was first approved, it was 20 mgm/kgm bodyweight. Then, once it was approved for use in Coke products, for some reason, the FDA decided it was OK (without additional studies – we’ll call their rationale “The Science of Politics”) to raise the limit to 50 mgm per kgm body weight.
Consider this: At 20 mgm per kgm bodyweight, a 50 llb child can reach his ADI with 2 ½ cokes. You do the math.
Thanks again, FDA.
Add to that the simple fact that no one is actually required to tell you how much aspartame is in the products you’re consuming – just that it’s there. And then take into account the thousands of products it’s now used in – from chewing gum to yogurt to children’s vitamins – and what makes you think you’re not in danger of reaching your conveniently readjusted ADI?
The FDA claims they are “regulating” the public intake of aspartame. Really? When was the last time you were surveyed by a government agency about your grocery shopping habits? About which drugs you’re taking? Which children’s vitamins you’re giving your kids? Do you have someone at hand to research the quantities of aspartame in each and every product you use and then kindly add it all up to give you an update? When was the last time you saw a regulatory body standing guard over the Pepsi machine to enforce a 2,4,6 coke limit per day? Nobody is regulating anything. If you ask me, for a little green pocket lining, the people who are supposed to be protecting us are conveniently looking the other way.
In fact, speaking of looking the other way, legally, any Citizens Petition for a Ban submitted to the FDA is required by law to be answered within 180 days. Upon receiving the petition, the FDA must:
- i) Approve the petition
- (ii) Deny the petition; or
- (iii) Provide a tentative response, indicating why the agency has been unable to reach a decision on the petition, e.g., because of the existence of other agency priorities, or a need for additional information. The tentative response may also indicate the likely ultimate agency response, and may specify when a final response may be furnished.
The Citizen’s Petition for a Ban on Aspartame was sent via certified mail on June 17, 2002. In May, 2003 the FDA sent a “tentative response,” siting “competing priorities.” To date, this petition has not been revisited and remains lost in the bureaucratic Twilight Zone, unanswered.
So what does aspartame do to you, exactly?
For starters, the FDA compiled a list of 92 symptoms based on over 10,000 complaints from, guess who… you, the consumer. They used to mail this list out freely, but now you can’t get it without a congressman or Freedom of Information Act request.
Because aspartame is a neurotoxin, some doctors suggest aspartame may also be a factor in Autism, ADD, hyperactivity, mental retardation, and various other neurological problems in children. Check out this book by Dr. Russell Blaylock. Or check out this video and hear his own words.
Along with the above and the increased possibility of cancer, aspartame also contains phenylalanine. The law requires a PKU warning for people who cannot metabolize the phenylalanine, because phenylalanine floods the brain, lowering the seizure threshold and depleting serotonin. So next time you pick up a pack of gum and check the ingredients, if it has phenylalanine—yep, that’s aspartame.
What do you have to gain from aspartame?
Not weight loss. Think again.
In fact, what you might find yourself gaining… is weight. All the numerous other potential health risks aside, a new Duke University study published in The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda actually contribute to obesity. They also destroy beneficial intestinal bacteria and may interfere with the absorption of prescription drugs.
OK, but if it’s so bad for you, why hasn’t it been banned?
Ever hear this other phrase: “Money talks”?
So what does DORway have to gain from sharing this info?
For 10 years before his death, my father spent thousands of hours compiling research. He then spent many thousands more transcribing the documents to DORway. He then paid for DORway’s bills out of his own pocket. Upon his death, I took over the upkeep for DORway – everything from paying the bills to updating the Web site to answering letters. No one paid him. No one pays me. I do it because, like my father, I just want to provide you, the public, with information. It’s that simple. You make up your own minds.
On the other hand, what did Donald Rumsfeld have to gain for ramrodding aspartame through the FDA approval process? A job with the PR firm representing Searle – along with millions of dollars in compensation for his political influence.
What do the lobbyists who help keep it legal have to gain? Lots of money.
What does the FDA have to gain? Guess.
What do the pro-aspartame Web sites have to gain? Take another educated guess.
To give you just an idea how much money is at stake, Merisant Worldwide, Inc., just one of the many companies now dealing in aspartame, allegedly controls about 1/5th of the worldwide aspartame market. Their sales in 2007, according to their stock profile, were an estimated $290 million. One-fifth of the market at $290 million…
DORway actually gets hate mail for simply posting information – something the U.S. Constitution grants us the right to do. We aren’t coming into your homes and seizing your diet cokes. We’re just giving you a little food for thought. So why should that make anyone angry?
“Above all else, do no harm.”
There’s that phrase again. DORway can rest assured that we are doing no harm by providing the free-thinking public with information. But we can point to many who can’t make the same claim, including snopes, who irresponsibly plants a “False” status to the statement, “The artificial sweetener aspartame has been proved responsible for an epidemic of cancer, brain tumors and multiple sclerosis.”
Guess what, snopes? Just maybe there would be a shred of truth in that statement if you had just added two words at the end of that sentence: “in people.” Aspartame HAS been proven to cause cancer in laboratory rats and mice – beyond a shadow of doubt. No one is arguing that point – not the FDA, not the National Cancer Institute, not even the makers of aspartame!
On August 1, l985 the FDA’s own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross, told Congress one of Searle’s studies “established beyond any reasonable doubt that aspartame is capable of inducing brain tumors in experimental animals and that this predisposition of it is of extremely high significance.”
So they’re only mice? How do you think they gauge the safety of every drug or food product introduced into the open market? When was the last time you heard of scientists using live human beings for lab testing – killing them in the testing process, then dissecting their remains to assess the damage? In fact, the safety of all products is often extrapolated from results compiled by thorough testing on other organic beings – mice, rats, monkeys, etc.
It’s called science.
So shame on you, snopes. You’ve been given a rare opportunity to make a difference, and what do you do with it? Certainly not encourage people to do the research for themselves. No, you waste it. You essentially enter the folks who make the mistake of trusting you in a game of Russian roulette. Way to play the game.
Come on FDA, don’t you think it’s time to reevaluate whether aspartame still poses a “reasonable certainty of no harm”?
Many respected doctors and researchers think so.
To sum it all up, I’ll cede to William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., who said it better than I can and with far more impressive credentials:
“No matter how you look at it, aspartame is bad news in my book. The massive introduction of this neurotoxin into the food supply is nothing less than biological warfare against every single one of us, and the only acceptable solution is to ban it from the food chain.”