How Aspartame Nearly Wasn't Approved for Human Consumption

Aspartame was approved by the FDA in the 1980’s. It’s now found in thousands of foods, beverages and pharmaceuticals.

Americans consume, on average, about 14 pounds of this sugar substitute every year. But how safe is aspartame? Is it really a health hazard, or are there just a lot of alarmists trying to scare us?

This substance has generated controversy since it was accidentally discovered by a researcher seeking to develop a new drug to treat gastric ulcers. It was approved for human use over much resistance from scientists who conducted safety tests, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD, a retired neurosurgeon who advises people to steer clear of this sweetener.

However, the director of the FDA approved it shortly before he left the agency, explains Dr. Blaylock, and it’s been on the market ever since. This FDA chief later went to work for a public relations firm that represents G.D. Searle, the company that originally patented this sweetener.

How Aspartame Nearly Wasn't Approved for Human Consumption

Most mainstream medical doctors seem to think aspartame is safe, as it’s is found in many prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

But nearly every alternative practitioner will tell you to avoid it. Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO, a well-known Internet personality, calls aspartame ‘the most dangerous’ food additive.

Aspartame is blamed for a number of problems, including seizures, muscle spasms, heart palpitations and joint pain. Serious concerns have been raised about it’s potential to cause brain tumors, lymphoma and Parkinson’s Disease, to name a few.

Amazingly, this sweetener accounts for the majority (around 75 percent) of reported reactions to food additives, according to Dr. Mercola and to Dr. Michael B. Schatner, MD, who runs a center for complimentary medicine in New York. (This information is posted on Dr. Schatner’s website.)

Dr. Blaylock, who has written numerous books on reversing disease with diet, points out that this is a case where big business interests collided with public safety.

Aspartame was originally approved for use in dry goods, and only at lower daily limits that what is currently recommended. Much of this information is contained in his book, Health and Nutrition Secrets that can Save Your Life.

How Aspartame Nearly Wasn't Approved for Human Consumption

As a cancer specialist, before his retirement, Dr. Blaylock urged patients to fight their disease with a healthy diet. He labled MSG and aspartame as dangerous exictotoxins that can adversely affect the brain and promote cancer growth.

Dr. Blaylock notes that animal studies showed an alarming incidence of brain tumors, which is what prompted the original safety concerns.

Flickr photo (thumbnail) by Steve Snodgrass