Medical and Scientific Affairs committee of Monsanto, aspartame, seizures, fibromyalgia, migraine

Ask the Doc: What Do You Think of Aspartame?

Ask the Doc: What Do You Think of Aspartame?

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of
What do you think of aspartame? S.Z.

Dear S.Z.: The safety of aspartame, an artificial sweetener marketed primarily under the names NutraSweet and Equal, has been questioned since its introduction in 1981. The manufacturer, Monsanto, has always maintained that the product is safe. In a review article published in April, 2002, the Medical and Scientific Affairs committee of Monsanto concluded, “it is clear that aspartame is safe, and there are no unresolved questions regarding its safety under conditions of intended use.”

Nevertheless, there is cause for concern. It is clear that aspartame breaks down into methanol and formaldehyde in the body. Some animal studies have demonstrated that the formaldehyde accumulates and is associated with cell death. While aspartame has not been shown to cause seizures, it has been shown to decrease the seizure threshold (make seizures more likely) in susceptible individuals. Aspartame clearly triggers migraine headaches in some individuals, and some people suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome have cleared their symptoms by eliminating their aspartame intake. At least one study demonstrated a decline in long-term memory in people consuming aspartame regularly.

While aspartame does not appear to be as dangerous as some claim, it can trigger serious reactions in susceptible individuals and may predispose consumers to lapses in long-term memory over time. I do not personally consume it and I do not recommend routine use of the product.  -Dr. Peterson

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