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There have been more consumer complaints about aspartame than any other food additive.

The Aspartame Consumer Network has received more than 10,000 complaints of adverse reactions to aspartame from all over the world and more than 75% of complaints to the US Food and Drug Authority’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System concern reactions to aspartame.

180 times sweeter than natural sugar, it is found in diet, low-calorie, lite, or ‘sugar-free’ products. Research has shown that aspartame may mimic or worsen diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and depression.

In 1994 the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a list of reported adverse reactions to aspartame, including: chest pains, asthma, arthritis, migraine headaches, insomnia, seizures, tremors, vertigo, and weight gain. The last item is ironic considering the marketing of aspartame and its use in most ‘diet’ drinks. According to one study, aspartame may actually prompt cravings for calorie-rich carbohydrates!

Methanol and formaldehyde appear to be the cause of most of the adverse reactions associated with aspartame. When aspartame is combined with the enzyme chymotrypsin in the small intestine, methanol is released, and this in turn breaks down into formaldehyde, a potent neurotoxin and carcinogen. Because it is not easily metabolised, the US Environmental Protection Agency considers methanol to be a "cumulative poison" and recommends a safe consumption of no more than 7.8 mg per day. A person who drinks a litre of any ‘diet’ fizzy drink containing aspartame creates seven times that amount in his or her body - about 56 mg of methanol.

In spite of the clear dangers of aspartame, UK officials have ignored calls for a ban and have resisted efforts to establish a warning label for aspartame, stating (completely contrary to all the evidence) that the complaints against the sweetener aren't sufficient to warrant such a warning. It is curious that government bodies ostensibly set up to protect the public should so decisively side with big business, promoting consumption of unnecessary artificial compounds about which there are serious and well-founded health concerns (contrast this with the official treatment of stevia, a safe (but non-patentable) alternative.

The scientific literature on aspartame consistently shows problems (even though, oddly, the manufacturer’s own studies showed no problems at all), and other industry-funded ‘studies’ border on the fraudulent (a Grand Jury was convened at one point to consider fraud charges). In fact a "research" organization led by one of Monsanto's close business partners was caught fixing a study by adding an irritant substance to beverages given to control groups in double-blind studies, in order to mask similar reactions in the aspartame group - a clear example of outright fraud that was perpetuated for several years before being revealed.

The US FDA is also clearly not impartial. For example, they publicly claimed that they had received only 16 aspartame toxicity reaction reports in 1996, but somehow forgot to mention that they had in fact stopped recording such adverse reaction reports early that year!

Please feel free to post your own experiences using the comments area below.

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