The Contrast

The Contrast
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Artificial Sweetners Will KILL YOU! (NOT!)

I hear this shit alllll the time. Artificial sweeteners will kill you, they cause cancer, depression and weight GAIN!

Wait...What?! I ingest this stuff all the the time! Oh no.... I'm depressed, riddled with cancer and horrifically obese!!! 

Oh wait, I'm none of those things...

Not bad, Ol' Yeargain!

Whew...that was a close one. 

As a bro that slugs down a lot of diet beverages, people like to point and yell "you will die!" with one finger wielding hand whilst balancing a cigarette, donut and jack and coke with the other.

I wish this was an exaggeration. Judge me not!

We all have our vices, and I'm not here to tell you it's good for you. In fact, I'm going to give you all of the nitty gritty. But, don't expect me to spit out this dark brown elixir at the first sign of someone saying "if you drink that stuff, your head is going to fall off."

You gotta admit, that shit is funny.

The common culprit for most peoples attacks go to the original bad boy: Aspartame. It's the sweetening agent in diet soda and a great deal of other zero calorie beverages.

"That shit will make your face fall off and give you cancer!!!!!!"

Oh yeah? Behold, the evidence:

*Warning: I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am a bro scientist at best with access to the internet. The following is compilation of research done by others that I was able to sort through via google and the U.S. National Library of Medicine available to search online. I hold no license to any of the findings, but I did create all of the memes.*

What is Aspartame?

Aspartame is a dipeptide containing aspartic acid and phenylalanine methyl ester. It is a nutritive sweetener with a caloric value equivalent to that of other proteins and with sweetness approximately 180 times that of sucrose. Thus, for equivalent sweetening power, it contributes only 0.5% of the kilocalories of sugar. Numerous studies have shown no potential toxicity of amounts of aspartame likely to be ingested, or even of abuse doses. Although aspartame cannot fully replace sugar, it appears to be a safe and acceptable sweetener for those who must, or desire to, reduce their intake of sucrose.

Studies on Aspertame so far:

"Over 20 years have elapsed since aspartame was approved by regulatory agencies as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. The safety of aspartame and its metabolic constituents was established through extensive toxicology studies in laboratory animals, using much greater doses than people could possibly consume. Its safety was further confirmed through studies in several human subpopulations, including healthy infants, children, adolescents, and adults; obese individuals; diabetics; lactating women; and individuals heterozygous (PKUH) for the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) who have a decreased ability to metabolize the essential amino acid, phenylalanine. Several scientific issues continued to be raised after approval, largely as a concern for theoretical toxicity from its metabolic components--the amino acids, aspartate and phenylalanine, and methanol--even though dietary exposure to these components is much greater than from aspartame. Nonetheless, additional research, including evaluations of possible associations between aspartame and headaches, seizures, behavior, cognition, and mood as well as allergic-type reactions and use by potentially sensitive subpopulations, has continued after approval. These findings are reviewed here. The safety testing of aspartame has gone well beyond that required to evaluate the safety of a food additive. When all the research on aspartame, including evaluations in both the premarketing and postmarketing periods, is examined as a whole, it is clear that aspartame is safe, and there are no unresolved questions regarding its safety under conditions of intended use."

Also This:

"Aspartame is a methyl ester of a dipeptide used as a synthetic nonnutritive sweetener in over 90 countries worldwide in over 6000 products. The purpose of this investigation was to review the scientific literature on the absorption and metabolism, the current consumption levels worldwide, the toxicology, and recent epidemiological studies on aspartame. Current use levels of aspartame, even by high users in special subgroups, remains well below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority established acceptable daily intake levels of 50 and 40 mg/kg bw/day, respectively. Consumption of large doses of aspartame in a single bolus dose will have an effect on some biochemical parameters, including plasma amino acid levels and brain neurotransmitter levels. The rise in plasma levels of phenylalanine and aspartic acid following administration of aspartame at doses less than or equal to 50 mg/kg bw do not exceed those observed postprandially. Acute, subacute and chronic toxicity studies with aspartame, and its decomposition products, conducted in mice, rats, hamsters and dogs have consistently found no adverse effect of aspartame with doses up to at least 4000 mg/kg bw/day. Critical review of all carcinogenicity studies conducted on aspartame found no credible evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic. The data from the extensive investigations into the possibility of neurotoxic effects of aspartame, in general, do not support the hypothesis that aspartame in the human diet will affect nervous system function, learning or behavior. Epidemiological studies on aspartame include several case-control studies and one well-conducted prospective epidemiological study with a large cohort, in which the consumption of aspartame was measured. The studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue. The weight of existing evidence is that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a nonnutritive sweetener."

Oh, thank god, I'm safe!

Well, kind of, let's read on, shall we?


Aspartame and Weight Loss:


For a while there, people tried to argue that drinking diet sodas would lead to weight loss. This is complete bull shit. The substance itself is merely sweetened water, there is nothing significant about it. The only potential weight loss characteristic is if it replaced all caloricially dense beverages in a persons diet and the person did not replace those calories with food. That does not deem zero calorie beverages a miracle cure status, it just means that the individual is capable of self control.

However, here is some science, as if it's even necessary.

This article states:

"Lean and Hankey speculate on the potential of aspartame to bring about weight loss, their assessment is largely theoretical (based on the potential for the replacement of sugar with aspartame to bring about caloric deficit). Despite two decades of use in the human diet, not one single, double blind, placebo controlled study that supports aspartame's supposed weight loss effects has been published.
Lean and Hankey endorse the use of aspartame in the diet, but the facts are that this synthetic chemical's “benefits” are unproved, and a considerable body of evidence exists that shows it has very real potential for harm. The glaring disparity in results from industry funded and independently funded research is clearly of considerable concern. Lean and Hankey say that the public needs protection from “misleading” websites warning of the hazards of aspartame. It seems that what the members of the public (and the medical profession) really need protecting from is editorials lacking in balance and objectivity."

On the subject if it causes you to actually GAIN WEIGHT!

"These results suggest that the most negative consequences of consuming high-intensity sweeteners may occur in those most likely to use them for weight control, females consuming a "Westernized" diet and already prone to excess weight gain."

So, more or less, drinking diet beverages and ingesting aspertame isn't going to help you lose weight if you're still eating a truck load of fat based foods (i.e. the "Westernized" diet.)

Obviously, I am un-phased by these Studies. What other horrible things could possibly be a result from drinkin this tasty brown elixir?

Aspartame and Depression:

"This study was designed to ascertain whether individuals with mood disorders are particularly vulnerable to adverse effects of aspartame. Although the protocol required the recruitment of 40 patients with unipolar depression and a similar number of individuals without a psychiatric history, the project was halted by the Institutional Review Board after a total of 13 individuals had completed the study because of the severity of reactions within the group of patients with a history of depression. In a crossover design, subjects received aspartame 30 mg/kg/day or placebo for 7 days. Despite the small n, there was a significant difference between aspartame and placebo in number and severity of symptoms for patients with a history of depression, whereas for individuals without such a history there was not. We conclude that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener and its use in this population should be discouraged."

So, if you suffer from depression, it might be a good idea to avoid sweeteners such as aspartame because it may exaggerate your symptoms (according to this study.)

Well, I'm a pretty happy dude, I'm definitely not clinically depressed, so I should be pretty safe to consume this stuff.

Aspartame causes cancer:

Actually, no, there hasn't been any correlation (at least to my knowledge) that aspartame is capable of this. What you may be thinking of is the rat's getting cancer from a Sacchrine study:

"In the 1970's, studies demonstrated that sodium saccharin was carcinogenic in laboratory rats. On this basis, saccharin was de-listed as a food additive in Canada, although restricted access as a table top sweetener was maintained. Since that time, further studies have suggested that the carcinogenic effect of sodium saccharin in rats is not relevant to humans. Both the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives, and the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Foods have established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) level for sodium saccharin and Health Canada is proposing to introduce a similar ADI. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has conducted a complete evaluation of saccharin's carcinogenic potential in humans and has concluded that sodium saccharin can no longer be considered a "possible carcinogen in humans". In May 2000, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) dropped saccharin from its list of suspected cancer-causing chemicals, indicating that the rodent carcinogenicity data are not sufficient to list this chemical as a "reasonably anticipated human carcinogen."

In this study:

"Our findings do not support the hypothesis that aspartame increases hematopoietic or brain cancer risk.

And this study:

"The present study adds further evidence on the absence of an adverse effect of low-calorie sweetener (including aspartame) consumption on the risk of common neoplams in the Italian population."

Cool, all clear.

More Rat Studies: 

As I've said before, you can't discredit studies because they were performed on rats. Here is a list of scientific acheivements that have been accomplished through animal testing!

So, spit out that stuff real quick. I'm not finished.

You guys think I won't over use a joke. You obviously don't understand my humor.

Lesions on these albino momma rat's raise some concern...

"In conclusion, the consumption of aspartame leads to histopathological lesions in the liver and alterations of the genetic system in the liver and bone marrow of mother albino rats and their offspring. These toxicological changes were directly proportional to the duration of its administration and improved after its withdrawal."

And in these Male Rats

"It can be concluded from these observations that long term consumption of aspartame leads to hepatocellular injury and alterations in liver antioxidant status mainly through glutathione dependent system."

Those poor rats...I'm gonna die, just like them....


"In summary, considering that there are no significant differences in cancer rates between high-dose groups and historical controls, plus the many deficiencies in the experimental design and data, Soffritti et al. (2007) failed to provide convincing evidence of aspartame carcinogenicity. Given the effort expended by many government review agencies to document shortcomings of the first article by this group (Soffritti et al. 2006), it is disappointing that the editor and reviewers of this paper (Soffritti et al. 2007) did not require the authors to address those problems that appear again in this study. Diligence is especially necessary on topics of great public interest and relevance because the public is relying upon the scientific community to assure that only high quality, well-documented, and controlled studies appear in peer-reviewed journals."

So, to get to my point, lots of research has been done over the subject, some yielded negative results, some have yielded insufficient findings. It's up and down as far as consistency is concerned. I had to weed through a lot of "Insufficient evidence was found..." to find stuff that I deemed interesting enough to post on here.

However, that has not stopped many from continuing the "good fight" against the EVIL corporations that are trying to kill you and your children!!!

This asshole:

I didn't even have to make this one, this was straight up on google. Look at this picture!!!!

Dr. Mercola.

When researching potential issues with aspartame, I merely had to google it and Dr. Mercola's web page came up. I looked through some of the information, and some of it intrigued me enough to bookmark it for a second look later on with a more discerning eye...but when I tried to return to the page, I was unable to... That's when I stumbled on This Site more or less bringing up multiple claims against Dr. Mercola and his website by the FDA.

You can look at this stuff yourself and make up your mind, but it seems that the guy is a snake oil now I'm completely skeptical of all of his work, the majority of which I'm unable to look over for some reason. I'll post an update if it becomes available again.

There are dozens of websites like Dr. Mercola's on the internet that more or less use fear mongering to get people to read their information and perhaps even sell you a detox kit.

I'm not gonna lie to you, when first reading through some of this stuff, it really messed with my head and made me think twice before sipping on my diet beverage whilst typing this up.

However, the more I read, the more my concerns were settled. I think this article said it best:

"You have to interpret a literature, not a single study. The results of one lab or one study can be erroneous. When decades have produced hundreds of studies on a question, the cherry pickers will always have a lot to choose from...

Aspartame is a highly studied food additive with decades of research showing that it is safe for human consumption. As expected, the research is complex making it possible to cherry pick and misinterpret individual studies in order to fear monger. But the totality of research, reviewed by many independent agencies and expert panels, supports the safety of aspartame.
A conspiracy to hide the risks of aspartame, however, remains a popular internet urban legend that will likely not disappear anytime soon."

Random Scary Incidents Due to Diet Sodas:

If you're interested in being scared out of drinking this stuff, I'll go ahead and post these things for you:

This person experienced a Seizure and hyponatremia after drinking too much diet coke!

This actor believes that aspartame caused his cancer.

These people experienced fibromyalgia due to aspartame consumption

So, some individuals do react, or at least believe they do, negatively to aspartame. If drinking or consuming fake sugars causes you pain or injury, by all means, STOP! However, this could potentially make you a genetic outlier, or it could be an instance of aspartame in combination with medication or pre-exhisting medical conditions that are being exaggerated by the chemical, that in itself does not make the chemical harmful for the general population.

Could people die from drinking diet sodas? Well, yeah, although I have not seen a single case contributing it to anyone's demise. But some people also die from aspirin, neti pot use, and drinking too much water for fucks sake. Things that we commonly consider to be safe. The unfortunate horrible reality is that life is fragile and fate is horrifically unfair. I nearly choked on a giant piece of ice while drinking my diet Mt. Dew. That's assisting in involuntary manslaughter!!!

Why I will continue to drink tasty aspartame flavored beverages.

Guys, I've been chugging this stuff for several years now, around 6 to 7 years if my math is right. And even then, I was a hard core Regular Dr. Pepper (High Fructose Corn Syrup!!!!!) addict for years leading up to that. (Since childhood) It's become a staple in my diet. Is it good for you? Hell no, it's not giving you any kind of health benefit, it's not contributing to macro or micro nutrient intake. It's flavored carbonated water with coloring. However, it is obviously not going to be the thing that puts me in the grave. I've demonstrated that aspartame has very little affect over MY general health. The same has not proven true to other individuals, and frankly I don't recommend anybody take on my absurd addiction, why should you?

Frankly, this whole idea of shaming people into not doing things that will potentially harm them is straight up asinine. People have known for years that things like smoking, binge eating, alcohol and drug abuse are dangerous and can have ill effects on your health. Yet we spend thousands every year reiterating the point ad naseum that these things are bad, they will kill you, blah blah blah. We get it. You're trying to save us. Life is complex y'all. It ain't always just about living the longest or being healthy, often times it seems that we tolerate the healthy activities to indulge more in the unhealthy ones. Sometimes doing things that are bad for us make life a little more enjoyable. That's why we do them sparingly, or we do them to excess and reap the consequences. Regardless, the choice is. and always was, yours to make.

In Short:

You know where you can stick it.

If you think I'm an ill informed idiot, please, by all means, tell me in the comment section below!

1 comment:

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