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Is Aspartame Bad For You?

Is aspartame bad for you?


Is Aspartame Bad For You?

You often hear talk about how artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are bad for you. That they cause cancer, birth deformities, holes in your brain and other horror stories. But is any of that true?

What is aspartame?

Aspartame is a sugar substitute or ‘artificial sweetener’ synthesized from aspartic acid. It’s usually sold under the brand names ‘Nutrasweet’ and ‘Equal’.

Over the last 30 years, it has become a permanent ingredient in diet sodas, sugar-free chewing gum, and other sugar free products. Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by James M. Schlatter, a chemist working for G.D. Searle & Co, while he was working on an antiulcer drug. Licking his finger (which had become contaminated with aspartame) to turn a page in a book, Schlatter had accidentally discovered its sweet taste.

Off To A Bad Start

In 1970, there were only two artificial sweeteners on the market. They were both eventually banned after being linked to health problems. This happened just as GD Searle company was trying to release its new artificial sweetener, but it wasn’t without controversy itself. Reportedly, the first tests on animals went horribly. Opponents of aspartame claimed that monkeys had died, baby mice got holes in their brains, and deformities occurred. The company pumped millions of dollars into these studies and improving its new product until they felt they had enough safety evidence.

Critics also accused GD Searle of manipulating the data which led to the FDA asking the US Attorney to start a criminal investigation against the company in 1976. In December 1977, the case was dropped for lack of evidence. As the years passed, aspartame was approved for more and more products.

So is Aspartame bad for you?

Diet SodaWhile aspartame can adversely effect some people — people who are unable to metabolize the amino acid ‘phenylalanine’ — it has been rigorously tested more than 200 times. Each of which have found it to be safe for consumption. While there has been a couple recent studies that suggest a possible link between artificial sweeteners and obesity, a direct link between additives and weight gain has yet to be found.

In 2005, the National Cancer Institute released the results of a large federal study involving more than a 500,000 adults 50 to 69 years old. Based on that research, the Institute concluded that there is “no evidence” any artificial sweetener on the market in the U.S. is “related to cancer risk in humans.” In addition, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the consumer group that has questioned the safety of aspartame for almost 30 years, praised this study, saying it “significantly allays concerns” about cancer.

So there you have it. Though, with anything you put into your body, everything in moderation. Large amounts of anything is not healthy and can pose significant health risks.

National Cancer Institute
FDA Report – Aspartame

What is aspartame? – National Cancer Society
Photos are available under a Creative Commons Attribution license by Wikicommons.



  1. clint

    April 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Aspartame returns to being aspartic acid in the system. Aspartic acid is a neurotoxin.

  2. hammerman

    December 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    “Human” studies show that the acid is excreted faster than it is formed after ingestion of aspartate. In some fruit juices, higher concentrations of methanol can be found than the amount produced from aspartame in beverages. It gets broken down into a ratio where it wont effect you.

    The propaganda funded by the sugar industry against aspartame was based a few chicken tested embryos by a scientist who was found guilty of manipulating the results.

  3. Cassandra

    May 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    There have been plenty of studies proving diet drinks linked with obesity as many diet drinks contain aspartame. Not only does it leave a bad taste in your mouth but it increases ones appetite. They found that rats who drank regular coke ate a lot less foot and sugared products then the ones that drank diet coke. They all became very fat. Another reason to not take the stuff is like flint mentioned…it is a neurotoxin. If you do some extra research on the subject and get past most of the BS, you will find that the FDA banned the substance many times befog they simply gave up and let it pass. There was no improved and harmless formula. Do yourself a favor and not touch the stuff. It’s NOT worth it! Drink water or club soda if you wanna lose the weight. Even drinking sugared soda is preferable, as bad as corn syrup is, aspartame is even worse. You can’t rely on articles about a product that makes companies many billions of dollars a year to tell you the truth….to sooth your fears. My grandmother used to say “When in doubt, throw it out!” There are good reasons there are controversial issues out there cause often the little guy will say hey, this stuff isn’t good. Then will be squashed by the billion dollar industry,and the FDA are not always reliable. Small amounts of many kinds of poison wont harm you right away, but can build up over time. Another example would be fluoride which is a key ingredient for rat poison.

    The FDA approved that stuff too and it’s even in our drinking water! So be wary people of people who say something is tone when you heard otherwise. There are plenty of other options out there of food and drink. Who cares if its about one company trying to defame another? Are you willing to put your health on the line. I’m kinda disappointed in this article that condones aspartame as long as its small amounts. Zidbits has been very helpful up to this point, yet when it comes to the controversial like sunscreen… it stays mainstream.

  4. TiagoTiago

    June 22, 2013 at 1:00 am

    I heard artificial sweeteners that just give you a sweet taste without the calories can deregulate the body’s sugar processing, making it try to process sugar that isn’t there; possibly resulting in diabetes and obesity… You didn’t mention that, is there any truth in it?

  5. Robert

    August 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

    The article just mentions that Aspartame doesn’t cause cancer. That may be true, but there are certainly other effects. My wife discovered that it caused her anxiety to increase. She believes that she is a carrier of the PKU syndrome. We have a daughter who is not affected by aspartame, but our son is definitely affected by it. Approximately one person out of every 50 in the United States is a carrier for PKU (Phenylketonuria).

  6. Aelyn

    December 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Cassandra, if the amount of money an industry makes tells us what is bad for us due to their marketing lies, then sugar must cause cancer and every other known disease on the planet. The article pointed out the statement by the Center for Science in the Public Interest specifically to address your concern about the FDA not being reliable. As for the rats that were fed ZERO calories eating more, well duh! Funny thing that if you drink a sugary drink you take in calories and don’t need to eat as much, but what did you eat then? Mostly high fructose corn syrup with a little nutritionally balanced food. The artificial sweetener rats at a whole, nutritionally balanced meal without a huge skew in calories from sugar. People that drink diet drinks are associated with obesity? No kidding! That’s NOT CAUSATION that’s just correlation. Maybe obese people switch to diet drinks after getting fat drinking sugar water in an attempt to diet and lose weight! What!?!? Do people actually do that? Yeah… if you think about it critically for just a few minutes you’ll see that artificial sweeteners aren’t the evil you, and so many others, think they are and that the supposed arguments against them are poorly constructed. We should be talking about how ConAgra and ADM pump syrup into EVERYTHING. How fast food chains pump syrup and fat in all their products.

  7. Randy8

    April 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I have consumed over 100,000 packages of equal in the last 16 years and I’ve never felt better. I now split it 50/50 with “Sweet One” which is available in 5 pound packages online. I’m 68 years old and follow “The Nutritarian Diet” as close as possible. This diet has never had a negative comment that I’ve found, unlike the comments about artificial sweeteners. Like Dr. Barry Sears said who wrote “The Zone”, if the food you eat doesn’t make you feel good, it’s probably bad for you. Artificial sweeteners make me feel good when combined with the recommended, healthy foods the Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about on his “Never Diet Again” PBS program. I don’t wear glasses and don’t need them for far or close up vision. I’ve contacted Monsanto about all the naysayers and they sent me solid proof that their product is as safe as any food additive on the market today. The FDA has reviewed this product four times. Never in our history has any food additive been reviewed four times and released to the public for every possible food application as completely safe. Nuff said!

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