Disparaging the Internet as a way of dismissing aspartame’s very real dangers

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October 23, 2014

Diet-Coke-Can

By BILL BONVIE

I just read a most interesting thing. It was a claim that the Food and Drug Administration has evaluated the artificial sweetener aspartame “a handful of times, and despite what the Internet might tell you, it’s perfectly safe.”

This particular declaration, which links to a National Cancer Society website when you click on it, appeared in a short article featured by Yahoo Finance called “What Happens When Chemists Don’t Wash Their Hands,” accompanied by the logo for The Atlantic and posted just three hours before I read it by writer Sarah Laskow. It described, in a few brief paragraphs, how chemists had accidentally discovered that various synthetic sweeteners, including the most widely used one, aspartame, were sweet tasting because they hadn’t bothered washing their hands.

But what I found most interesting was where I read it: on the Internet.

Now, allow me to ask what should be an obvious question here: if I can’t believe what I read on the Internet,  why am I supposed to believe this particular Internet assurance?

And, for that matter, why should I rely on an article appearing at an Internet business site for advice on whether or not something I might ingest is “perfectly safe” when a lot of other sources – including some prominent scientists and medical experts – have steadfastly maintained that it isn’t?

The “doublethink” (as George Orwell call it) at work here is something that never fails to amaze me every time I see such attempts to dismiss warnings about the harmful or toxic nature of certain food additives as nothing more than “Internet” rumors.  Especially given the fact that the Internet has now become our primary repository of information from all sources.

In fact, I think it would be fair to say that the validity of practically anything that appears in print can now be seriously questioned simply by virtue of its having been posted on ‘the Internet.”

Disregarding a mountain of symptoms and studies

In this case, one can only wonder whether Ms. Laskow took the trouble to look beyond the American Cancer Society’s perfunctory appraisal of aspartame’s safety to find out whether there are significant safety risks and health hazards associated with it.  For instance, did she even bother researching such things as the many thousands of adverse reaction reports that have been given to both the FDA and the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network, a support group for people with first-hand knowledge of the devastating health effects that aspartame use can produce? These reports encompass a wide variety of symptoms, including migraines, dizziness, depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, respiratory problems, tremors, migraine, fatigue, convulsions, tinnitus, memory loss, seizures and vision problems – the latter having been experienced by hundreds of airline pilots (many of whom have strongly advised their colleagues against ingesting diet soda or using Equal in coffee).

Or did she check into the research done by Dr. John Olney (with a National Institutes of Health grant) and other scientists on aspartame’s effects on test animals – like the holes it created in the brains of mice? Or, for that matter, did she take the time to find out the history of aspartame beyond its accidental discovery by a scientist working for the drug company Searle? For example, the way it was approved over the objections of FDA advisers by a political appointee of the incoming Reagan administration as an apparent favor to Donald Rumsfeld, who was then head of Searle? Or how, according to the late FDA toxicologist M. Adrian Gross, that company proceeded to cover up unfavorable studies, including one that “established beyond any reasonable doubt that aspartame is capable of inducing brain tumors in experimental animals”?

Or did the information she relied on include anything about aspartame being categorized as an “excitotoxin” capable of destroying neurons in the hypothalamus (especially when when consumed by children and the elderly and taken in combination with other excitotoxins, like monosodium glutamate)? As neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock has noted, the hypothalamus “regulates emotions, autonomic control ( parasympathetic and sympathetic), hunger and satiety, immunity, memory input, and anger control”  and  “disruptions in this vital piece of brain can result in anything from minor behavioral problems or endocrine malfunctions to major disruptions in sexual functions, obesity, immune suppression and endocrine gland failure.” And that “virtually every function of the hypothalamus is vulnerable to excitotoxin damage, both subtle and acutely dramatic.”

Or was she aware of the fact that when heated, aspartame breaks down into methanol – a substance that (as Blaylock puts it) “appears to attach to the DNA of cells after it is metabolized to formaldehyde, and is not only very difficult to remove, but results in numerous DNA deletion injuries”? And that this could increase the risk not only of cancer, but of diseases such as lupus, diabetes and Alzheimer’s?

Well, perhaps not. Or if she did, perhaps she chose not to allow such “Internet” information to interfere with her conclusion that aspartame is “perfectly safe.”

But we’re here to advise you that there’s a mountain of evidence out there, both experimental and empirical, to the effect that this accidentally discovered and fraudulently approved artificial sweetener is anything but.

Despite what you might read on the Internet.

Bill Bonvie is the author of Repeat Offenders, a newly released collection of previously published essays.