As this issue comes up so often I have repeatedly reviewed the background research into Aspartame in detail only to find that there is no solid link between aspartame and all the diseases it is supposed to cause – but a lot of corporate-conspiracy scare-mongering keeps the argument going.
In a recently released, convincing-looking video the argument is made as if it is scientific fact that Aspartame causes a wide range of diseases. In it, they rightly refer to the largest study of all – by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a respected Harvard teaching facility, that I went through some time ago. It was a huge study of 120,000 people over many years. If there was a problem with aspartame they were going to find it. They found no links to most of conditions aspartame is argued to have caused, except – with a big maybe and caveats – some forms of cancer. Both the hospital and the media overplayed the finding. With closer scrutiny, the hospital had to retract saying:
“Upon review of the findings, the consensus of our scientific leaders is that the data is weak, and that BWH Media Relations was premature in the promotion of this work. We apologize for the time invested in this story.”
NBC News gave an accurate account of the greater story here the highlights:
“Most animal and human studies have given aspartame a clean bill of health. But in 2005 an Italian study showed a potential danger in rats that led epidemiologist Dr. Eva Schernhammer and her team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to look through the records of more than 77,000 women and 47,000 men in their nurses and health professional’s studies. They concluded that those who drink a daily diet soda sweetened with aspartame could have an increased risk of leukemia, lymphoma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
But there are caveats: The results differed between women and men, and there also seemed to be a risk among people who drank mostly sugared soda (emphasis added). No one claimed that it meant more than further study was need.
Yet when lead author Schernhammer was asked whether the new research proves that aspartame is dangerous, she answered emphatically, “No, it does not.””
People who run these arguments forget that American lawyers love big class actions that earn them millions of dollars. If aspartame caused the illnesses that it’s supposed to, the lawyers would have brought this case yesterday. Why haven’t they? Because the research shows that that even with high consumption – as many people do – there is still no reliable link.
My advice is to drink way less than one diet soft drink a day and to use foods with other natural sweeteners, like Stevia, where possible – mind you unsweetened natural organic food and juices are even better. The main use of diet drinks is instead of fully-sugared drinks – if you are going to drink them, despite advice, and mix them with alcohol. It’s that old, exceedingly boring ‘moderation’ argument again …