Aspartame (or APM) is the name for an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many foods and beverages. In the European Union, it is known under the E number (additive code) E951 or by its tradename of Nutrasweet. Aspartame is the methyl ester of a phenylalanine/aspartic acid dipeptide.

Aspartame is the methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. Under strongly acidic or alkaline conditions, aspartame may generate methanol by hydrolysis. Under more severe conditions, the peptide bonds are also hydrolyzed, resulting in the free amino acids. In certain markets aspartame is manufactured using a genetically modified variation of E.coli.

Aspartame was first synthesized in 1965. Its use in food products was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1974. Because its breakdown products include phenylalanine, aspartame is among the many substances that must be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare genetic condition. Aspartame was first approved in the UK in 1982 following the review of its safety by the UK's Committee on Toxicity, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), a committee of independent experts that advises the Government on the safety of food chemicals. In 1988, the European Commission's former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) also gave a positive opinion on aspartame. This was later reaffirmed in 1992 when the COT considered new literature on aspartame and confirmed its original findings that aspartame was acceptable for use in food.

Aspartame, the artificial sweetener used to make Nutrasweet, Equal and sometimes labeled as phenylalanine in products, has been the subject of heated controversyóboth because of safety issues and the alleged shady circumstances surrounding its approval. Considering possible connections between aspartame and diseases such as brain tumors, brain lesions and lymphoma, and taking into account alleged conflicts of interest during the approval process, you owe it to yourself to learn the facts. We have attempted to make this article as unbiased as possible so that you can draw your own conclusions.

There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption. Aspartame dissolves into solution and can therefore travel throughout the body and deposit within any tissue. The body digests aspartame unlike saccharin, which does not break down within humans.

David O. Rietz, original founder and webmaster of DORway, has waged an online campaign to get Aspartame banned from our diets since 1996. He quotes these 20 points on his website:

Aspartame is NOT a natural substance!
Aspartame is NOT a diet enhancement product!
Aspartame is NOT safe - for ANYONE!
Aspartame is NOT a food "additive"
Aspartame is an UNREGULATED and UNSAFE DRUG! (It was originally slated to be a peptic ulcer drug!)
Aspartame in liquids turns to FORMALDEHYDE above freezing!
Aspartame is even worse for DIABETICS!
Aspartame poisoning is cumulative (it adds up!)
Aspartame byproducts get stored in your FAT!
Aspartame has 92 "official" side effects (the worst is DEATH!)
Aspartame MIMICS a wide range of problems
Aspartame side effects are USUALLY MISDIAGNOSED! (By 21 doctors, in my case!)
Aspartame is unfit for human consumption!
Aspartame's approval by the FDA is A SHAMELESS tragedy!
Aspartame's approval for use in EVERYTHING is far worse!
Who are the culprits? FDA, Searle, Monsanto, NutraSweet and more!
The ONLY "CURE" is total exclusion from the diet!
TOTAL recovery may not be possible!
Only an irate and active PUBLIC can rid the world of this POISON!
If YOU have been affected... REPORT IT! GET INVOLVED!

The components of aspartame can lead to a number of health problems, as you have read. Side effects can occur gradually, can be immediate, or can be acute reactions. According to Lendon Smith, M.D. there is an enormous population suffering from side effects associated with aspartame, yet have no idea why drugs, supplements and herbs donít relieve their symptoms. Then, there are users who donít Ďappearí to suffer immediate reactions at all. Even these individuals are susceptible to the long-term damage caused by excitatory amino acids, phenylalanine, methanol, and DKP.

Click HERE to see some of the 92 symptoms attributed to Aspartame in complaints submitted to the FDA by the Department of Health and Human Services April 20, 1995, which was posted on the FDA website on July 16, 2006.

Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into natural residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol, and further breakdown products including formaldehyde, known to have a number of detrimental effects on the human body, formic acid, and a DKP - Aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine.

High levels of the naturally-occurring essential amino acid phenylalanine are a health hazard to those born with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare inherited disease that prevents phenylalanine from being properly metabolized. Since individuals with PKU must consider aspartame as an additional source of phenylalanine, foods containing aspartame sold in the United States must state "Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine" on their product labels.

In the UK, studies have also been conducted regarding aspartame's effect on the production of Leptin which controls food intake and energy expenditure by acting on receptors in the mediobasal hypothalamus. These studies have shown that leptin was "significantly reduced by 34%" after "chronic ingestion of aspartame (ASP)."

The most recent medical review on the subject concluded that "the weight of existing scientific evidence indicates that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a non-nutritive sweetener." The gainsayers will tell you however, that Aspartame and synthetic sugars is a multi-million dollar business, which employs over 400 lobbyists in the United States alone. The safety of aspartame has been the subject of several political and medical controversies, Congressional Hearings and internet hoaxes since its initial approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974.

Following the publication of a number of anecdotal reports, which cast doubt on the safety of this sweetener, the Food Standards Agency in the UK, pressed the European Commission in 2001 to revisit its previous safety assessment of aspartame (1988) at the earliest opportunity; and provided assistance in preparing a summary report for consideration by the former Scientific Committee on Food (SCF).

The SCF reviewed more than 500 papers published in the scientific literature between 1988 and 2001 on the safety of aspartame, including studies supporting the safety of aspartame and others pointing to potential adverse effects. Included as an annexe to the summary report presented to the SCF was the outcome of a review of the safety of aspartame by the French Agency for Food Health and Safety (AFSSA). The AFSSA review focused primarily on the possible link between aspartame and brain tumours.

Following this extensive review, the SCF published a revised opinion in 2002, which concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a need to revise the outcome of their earlier risk assessment or the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) previously established for aspartame of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (40 mg/kg bw/day).

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which assumed the role of the SCF in providing the European Commission with independent scientific advice, published a further review on the safety of aspartame in May 2006. This was in response to a study published by the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, in July 2005. The study claimed to have shown that rats given dosages of aspartame equivalent to the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) may develop tumours. The EFSA assessment raised a number of concerns regarding this study and concluded 'on the basis of all the evidence currently available, that there is no need to further review the safety of aspartame nor to revise the previously established ADI'. The Food Standards Agency supports the conclusions of these reviews and also reiterates that all approvals of food additives should be kept under review as and when new scientific information becomes available.

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