Straight Talk About Aspartame

Are we the real lab rats?

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?

Scratching head…

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.

Want to know more about aspartame and ADI? Check out this article on DORway, or check out the study itself.

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.

This is an older well-written article by a nutritionist that I found interesting. For anyone who is health-conscious or wants to lose weight, it spells it all out very clearly.

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.”

Illustration by Tiago Hoisel


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About Tanya

Tanya is a bestselling novelist and award-winning journalist. She's led the editorial staffs of several parenting publications and Web based editorial, including AOL/ Huffington Post.
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48 Responses

  1. The debate is quite interesting, complete with arguments, and provide good information.

  2. Very good short article, well crafted I have to admit.

    • Thank you, Dorian.

      • Monsantos continues to promote Round-Up Resistant Genetic Modified crops which harm the body. They promote these crops for money only and get protection from the Bush AND Clinton families.

        The Bush AND Clinton families work together.

        Canola Oil is a genetically modified crop known as Genetically Modified Rapeseed. Rapeseed is poisonous. But the United States Government CONTINUES to cover up the truth about the dangers of Rapeseed Oil. It literally rapes the body.

        It caused me to gain over 50 pounds in weight. It caused high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. When I stopped consuming Rapeseed (Canola) Oil (Genetically Modified plants), my blood pressure returned to normal, my cholesterol levels returned to normal and I lost all the weight I gained.

        Doctors only wanted to sell drugs, I took no drugs for those complications.

        I tell you the truth, I see the Bush and Clinton families working together WITH Monsantos and all supporting each other.

        Praise our Father. He loves me and He allows me to come forth and tell the truth.

  3. Well crafted, what would these folks here have to gain from letting us know the rest of the story, other than to help us make a more informed chioce about what we put into our bodies?
    I remember when it first came out, it was in the Tab soda. I got one and after a couple of sips on it, I became nauseous, just a yukky yuk in my gut. I thank God everyday that I didn’t continue consuming that junk!
    Common sense here… if it is a man made chemical, then it wasn’t made for the body…
    this includes meds. Whole foods are our meds, they are the true source of our life.

  4. A great article, with a lot of information and links to back up what you’re saying…

    • Thank you, Timberwolf. It’s not our goal to just indiscriminately oppose something … we really believe this is bad stuff and there’s lots of documentation out there to prove it.

  5. What an informative and well researched article. This is a true humanitarian effort you are doing here. Thank you for your hard work!

  6. Wow, great information! It is truly shocking that the FDA would be so reckless with people’s lives. The FDA should be an authority that we trust and know that they are doing right for all of the people. Thanks for making this information available to the public, more people need to be aware of the dangers.

  7. I was shocked to read how many side effects the use of Aspartame creates. And even more shocked to realise that those in a position to make a change in the use of this chemical sweetener do not consider the health of the general public. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  8. Find out what is truly in your Foods NOW ! Eat to live or Eat to DIE !

  9. Learn the TrUTH about Sugar substitutes the life you save may be your OWN !

  10. I came here Like this searched ZMA ( Zinc monomethionine aspartate)
    highlighted “aspartate” Google it with “aspartate sideeffect” came to site AND I WAS DAMN SHOCKED HORRIFIED and tell all u people something I just knew that only people with some particular kind of kidney or liver problem shouldn’t use Aspartame, from this site I came to conclusion “HOW I GOT ED(Erectile Dysfunction)” The side effects listed on the site, I mentioned I had 10 symptoms mentioned on that page INCLUDING ED/ Impotence, then I figured out how the fatter person than me is performing excellent in bed with his Girlfriend but not me the Answer is Aspartame, I used it a lot last year on daily basis, and that was the year I had started getting symptoms of ED, and sexual dysfunction, Now my Question is that, IS Aspartate in ZMA (Zinc monomethionine “aspartate”) Equally dangerous as the Aspartame???? GUYS TAKE IT SERIOUSLY ANSWER ME WITH PROOF WHETHER YES OR NO AND I SWEAR IT IF ASPARTATE/ ASPARTAME IS HARMFUL, ANY TIME U GOOGLE NUTRA SWEET ASPARTAME THE FIRST RESULT WOULD BE FOR ITS SIDE EFFECTS. And yes I am 24 yr old.

  11. Please see videos on this site than u will come to know about the whole scenario of Aspartame.

  12. Thank you for this article. I work for Wisdom Natural Brands, the makers of SweetLeaf Stevia, and I can tell you that the FDA tried to keep stevia off the market because the people at aspartame did not want the competition. The FDA seems to see them as clients. Like you said, “money talks.”

  13. Wow your article is very thought provoking. What I find interesting is that in this day and age illness is out of control (I work int he medical field) and the rate it is climbing is terrible. Remember when you were a kid and maybe one kid in class was hyper. Now we have classrooms full of children who have ADD? Or the fact the powers that be are reporting the next generation will either have cancer or aids!! How is this ok? Do you get a choice here? They dont know what the long term effects are – are very scary! If the “short-term” effects on mice were brain tumors I think the long term effect could be death! If the only thing that speaks to these peole is money, and we the consumers are driving their products….then we can make them listen! We can make them listen by not buying their products! We can make them listen by skipping the soda and drinking water, just by eating healthier! I dont want these fat cats to get rich off my dime anymore while my family and I suffer so this is one woman, mother and wife who is falling out of the aspartames race and living a healthy life! I do have a choice and I dont want Option A (cancer) Option B (Aids) I want C growing old and living a healthy life!

  14. i wish i could tell evey single person that was buying THAT diet soda is dangerous….best i came up with is BIZ cards ..i hand them out and leave them in every where people will see them…..
    try and get this info out …i know peple that use this junk every day in 5-8 different items and they think its fine as THATS WHAT THE DOCTOR SAYS I MUST USE……

  15. Yeah, I guess that is why it is till in the stores, Aspartame is also use in what the Morticians use when the em-bomb the dead bodies with, just take another look at the studies elsewhere, my sister is a Microbiologist at a hospital in Florida, she gives me information a lot about things, this was just one of them, just cos she cares about me, others! I hope that you all out there will do your studying on this deadly chemical! Thanks!!

  16. Very interesting. I gave up drinking Tab, I was addicted to it, and within 4 months came down 4 sizes, lost 20kgs. Just shows how bad this stuff is for you.

  17. My husband was addicted to Diet Coke, he died suddenly at age 50. I wish I had
    had an autospy performed. It wasn’t until later I see all of the symptoms of Aspartame poisoning. I had some business cards made up with websites about Aspartame poisioning. I put them on the Diet Coke cases in the grocery stores.
    And pass them out to everyone I see. Some people don’t want to know. Aspartame in itself is addictive. My husband could not give it up.
    I realized that Autism (which I never heard of growing up) went from 1 in 150 to1 in 110 and is now even more kids affected. Pregnant mothers may use sugar free products during their pregnancy.
    Here is another fact that our Government is trying to kill us. Check out Chem-Trails over your state. Crop dusting custom jets spraying Aluminum and Barium in the air seeding clouds and changing the weather. Look for grids sprayed across the sky. Then 2 days later there is horrific tornadoes, floods, etc. Look up “What in the World are They Spraying” Tell everyone. And Snopes does not recognize Chem Trails or Geo Engineering.
    God Bless Us All. We need help.

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Annie. DORway does have flyers that can be downloaded and printed. I really need to put those in a place that’s more easily found by readers. Thank you for your help in spreading the word.

  18. Awesomely written article…I love that your not harsh but you don’t fluff it up either!

    Can we not submit a NEW petition? WTF? It has been 8 years! And meanwhile all the fat cats are getting rich off this detrimental concoction and I am just finding out that this so-called “safe” product is causing me health problems!

    Maybe a class action lawsuit is in order?!

  19. i’ve been looking around for a product list . found out it’s in over 2000 products. don’t you think it would be helpful to know this information? where can i find a full product list?

  20. Thank you for your and your father’s dedication. Your article is outstanding and brought home how dangerous Aspartame is.

    I’ve been consuming diet products for over 30 years. Even though I had some bad side effects from diet drinks containing aspartame I didn’t give up the drinks entirely. Because the side effects (visual migraines) only occurred when I consumed one brand of diet drinks I thought I was safe with the others. My sister has not had a diet drink since aspartame came out because one side of her face would become paralyzed each time she had a drink containing aspartame – she was smart and didn’t try others.

    Hopefully I’m not too late to turn things around for myself – I’m trying desperately to switch to whole foods – 6 days and counting. Your article has given me additional motivation. I will also become one of DORWAY’s disciples and share the information as widely as I can.

    Once again, Thank you!

  21. We have been recently looking more closely at the food and drink our daughter consumes on a daily basis due to her irrational outbursts and uncontrolable behaviour (we thought she’d start to outgrow her hyperactivity at 7 1/2 ). On trying to limit her Sugar intake we stopped her from eating any sweet treats, chocolate, cakes biscuits etc..for a couple of weeks and she seemed to be more co operative and her behaviour seemed to be improving, but then I purchased a well known branded dilute cordial labelled “No Added Sugar” along with “No artificial colours or Flavours” and I genuinely thought this would be ok to give her. She started to play up on going to bed and the next day from the minute she woke I could see the change in her mood, she was acting silly, failing to listen, unco operative and generally disruptive, we never really knew what might have caused the sudden change untill today when I looked at the bottle and realised how much she had drunk(she’d bee helping herself un beknowns to us and was probably not dilluting it enough iether)It was just like an alarm bell going off and on reading the label at the back of the juice bottle the word “ASPARTAME” seemed to stand out and I have since been on the web trying to research this artificial sweetner pondering what my next move should be…I think I already know the answer-I need to try and eliminate ASPARTAME from my daughers diet alltogher but I know it’s gonna be hard…my research doesnt end here…thank you for this webpage 🙂

  22. about 10 years ago I started having health problems I had never had before, included were stomache troubles, headaches, muscle pains, chest pains and the worst was severe panic attacks. I was hospitalized twice and got to the point where I feared leaving the house. I eventually heard a story on 60 minutes about aspertame causing health troubles but ignored it until a very bad day that caused me to quit my job. I started looking at my health history and decided to do cold turkey aspertame. after a couple of weeks I started to see relief. I had an accidental relapse on a product that had it hidden low on the label and symptoms returned immediatly. 10 years later I am an avid label reader and I have been preaching at family and friends about how an accumulation of this can hurt you. 2 months ago my mother told me she was having health issues the dr’s could not figure out, panic attacks, dizzy spells, all the symptoms I had. I told her one word. “Aspertame” She has had a hard time removing it from her diet, it is in all of her foods but she now has stopped having the symptoms she was seeing doctors about.
    Jackie Maphis

    • I wish I could like your story! That’s great for both of you.

    • I’ve only been off aspartame for 2 days but your story gave me chills. I know for a fact that aspartame has slowly been making my life miserable and will support any site or people that want this poison taken out of the food our “parents” otherwise known as our government allow in our lives.

      Our own government knowing ALLOWS THIS…. and has allowed it for over 30 years…. I pray there’s something on the other side of this life that makes those people pay for their crimes against humanity…..

      It’s a drug with 92 symptoms ALL BAD….. why is it still on the market?

  23. Thank you for your research and posting. I’ve been going all natural for a long time with foods, cleaning products and soap, but the one thing I couldn’t give up was Diet Coke. It does remind me of when I smoked 13 years ago and I remember thinking “its the one thing I do for myself” and I woke up one day and thought…the one thing I do for myself is kill myself. My daughter is now 12 and it took that pregnancy to get me realize that I was doing anything but something for myself. I know at least three young moms as I type this message right at this very moment that have become very sick from liver disease, tumor to cancer. Do you know what they all have in common…Diet Coke. I myself am a sufferer of chronic severe headaches, numbness and and many other symptoms related to aspartame yet all these years of suffering I couldn’t seem to stop drinking it. It was like in my gut I knew it was the Diet Coke and I felt guilt and shame because I couldn’t stop. Withdrawing from cigarettes is known..its ok and people congratulate you for doing it, but from soda…it sounds ridiculous so you keep drinking it. However, the reality is it was actually harder than cigarettes because technically you rationalize it – you need fluids to survive right? and there is water in there…how much aspartame is there really and how could it possibly be this fluid thats always around you and so many people are consuming. Its not banned at work, restaurants, movies….it’s promoted. Heck even schools with vending machines. I’ve been drinking it since the 80’s. I’m only 35 and the scare of cancer has set in because I dont feel like I should at 35. it’s a shame that that’s what it took for me to realize that I was basically choosing to kill myself with Diet Coke. I have young children and I read labels on everything else, but I let that one slide…why??

  24. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you and your father have taken to inform the public about this product. Only be being informed can there be any hope for a change of attitude about aspertame and perhaps, only perhaps, we could hope for a new report from the FDA warning us of the true dangers of this product.

  25. I, too, would like to thank you and your Dad for your work and dedication to keep the consumers informed and updated.

    Why should we be surprised that anything that involves Politics and Mega-Corps will put money in their pockets and the rest of the public in the dark?

    I’ve given up believing anything either of them say. There’s so much being kept from us it’s nowhere near funny. I’m disgusted with the lot of them.

    What it comes down to is GREED & POWER. If you don’t have either, they don’t give a damn about you.

  26. It’s been about eight weeks since I came across your website and other similar sights. I had around 30 symptoms of aspartame poisoning to some degree. The last 10 years my health seemed to be going downhill and picking up speed the whole way. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I was no longer my “usual” self. I stopped using aspartame immediately.
    Well, two months later, I feel better than I have in many years. Even my family have noticed the improvements. I seem to have inadvertantly become an anti-aspartame advocate. Many people that I talk to about this poison think I’m a little crazy in my personal crusade. (kind of like speeking out about cigarettes in the 50’s and 60’s) I wish I had known about aspartame years ago, but ,better late than never.
    Keep up the GREAT work!
    Rick C

    • That’s awesome, Rick! My father was in the same boat. He went from literally falling in the street and being stranded two hours (unable to get up because of pain in his bones) until someone found him to being able to mow the grass within weeks. I’ll never forget the day he walked up to my door so pleased with himself for being able to do so. His pain was so crippling that they thought his cancer was already in his bones. It was not. It was the aspartame. That was enough proof for me! And he too became a bit of a crusader. Good luck to you and keep us posted!