By Dr. Mercola 
Americans drink more soda than anyone else on the planet — well over 700 eight-ounce servings each year, on average, and an increasing amount of it is diet soda.
They might be more reluctant to do so if they knew about the safety questions still surrounding aspartame. A number of scientists responding expressed major concerns about aspartame’s safety at the time of its approval, and even more indicated areas where they believed more research is needed on aspartame to resolve their concerns — research on areas such as neurological functions, brain tumors, seizures, headaches, and adverse effects on children and pregnant women.
“In a 1996 survey, Ralph G. Walton … looked at 166 peer-reviewed studies on aspartame undertaken between 1980 and 1985. He found that all 74 of the studies funded by the industry found no adverse effects from aspartame, while 84 of the 92 independently funded articles did find bad effects.”
Aspartame is the ingredient found in NutraSweet, It is also found in Equal, Spoonful, Equal Measure, AminoSweet, Benevia, NutraTaste, Canderel, and many popular “diet” sodas. This chemical is currently on the ingredient list of nearly 6,000 products worldwide. But since it was approved for use as a food additive in 1981, it has been dogged by complaints about its safety.
Was aspartame ever proven safe for human consumption before it gained FDA approval as a food additive?
Not according to Dr. John Olney, a researcher at Washington University in Saint Louis who first began studying aspartame in 1970. Dr. Olhney believes aspartame should not be on the market today “because it hasn’t been demonstrated to be safe.” Also in agreement with Dr. Olney are the FDA’s own investigations into the chemical from 1975 to 1980.
When the FDA was presented with Dr. Olney’s research, they assigned an outside public board of inquiry the task of deciding if aspartame should be allowed for human consumption. In 1980, the doctors on that board unanimously ruled that aspartame should not go on the market. An internal FDA panel concluded the same thing in 1980.
According to the FDA Chairman at that time, Dr. Gere Goyan, his next recommendation was to set up another FDA committee to study aspartame, composed people who played no previous part in the former studies of aspartame. Dr. Gere Goyan never saw the results of that 1980 FDA internal study, because he was forced to step down as FDA Chairman the day Ronald Reagan took office on January 21, 1981.
His replacement? Dr. Arthur Hill Hayes.
Dr. Hayes is notable for two reasons. First, he had no previous history of dealing with the science of food additives. Second, he was apparently hand picked to head the FDA by a prominent member of Ronald Reagan’s political transition team, Donald Rumsfeld. Yes, the same Donald Rumsfeld who led the United States into the multi trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as Secretary of Defense during the Bush presidency. But in 1981, Rumsfeld had a different title: CEO of the G.D Searle company, the company that owned the patent on aspartame.
One of Dr. Arthur Hill Hayes first acts as FDA Chairman was granting aspartame approval for use in dry goods. Incidentally, one of Hayes’ last acts in office as FDA Chairman was to approve aspartame for use in beverages.
So was aspartame approved because studies ever showed it was safe for human consumption? Or was it approved thanks to the political influence of Donald Rumsfeld?
According to former Sentator Howard Metzenbaum, who reviewed the FDA’s approval process of aspartame in the Senate in 1987, “I think there were a lot of politics involved in its being approved.” Research scientist Dr. Olney is even more blunt, “the issue (aspartame) is really not an issue of science, it’s an issue of politics.”
So much has been written and said about the FDA approval process in the case of aspartame, as well as subsequent widespread reports of adverse reactions, related degenerative diseases and neurological afflictions associated with aspartame, it’s a wonder anyone still uses ANY product containing this potent neurological poison.
But guess what?
Aspartame is the most utilized artificial sweetener in the United States,  with aspartame controlling over 50 percent of the market and sales of alternative sweeteners at $1.1 billion in 2010 , according to a May report from market research firm Freedonia Group. And, shockingly, demand for artificial sweeteners is projected to grow 3.4 percent annually through 2013, according to the report.
Americans consume close to 50 billion liters of soda per year, which equates to roughly 216 liters, or about 57 gallons per person, much of this in the form of diet soda loaded with aspartame. People are no doubt still opting for this toxic synthetic chemical because of the mistaken belief that drinking diet soda will help fight weight gain. 
The truth is that it doesn’t.
It never has and never will , despite the billions of dollars spent annually by the soda industry on public relations and advertising.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why Coca-Cola has to spend $3 billion a year on marketing? Could it be because they want you “feel good” about their products and not think about the actual ingredients?
I’ve gone on record saying that aspartame is a bigger public health threat than high fructose corn syrup and can lead to birth defects, cancer and weight gain .
Now let’s take a closer look at the politics behind the FDA’s approval of aspartame, and the reason the FDA and politicians have a very real financial incentive to keep aspartame available for human consumption. Along with what the scientific studies not funded by the aspartame or the diet soda industry actually reveal about this toxic neurological poison.
Since its Discovery, Aspartame has Been Linked to Brain Tumors
Dr. Adrian Gross, the FDA’s toxicologist who examined the aspartame research initially presented to the FDA by G.D. Searle, was “absolutely shocked” at the evidence according to Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon, showing “an enormous increase in tumors, particularly brain tumors.”
“And of course that’s exactly what we’re seeing now is this tremendous increase in brain tumors in this country. Which is completely unexplained by the neurological profession,” continues Dr. Blaylock.
Dr. Blaylock has written three books about the health dangers of excitotoxins (aspartame and MSG are excitotoxins), but has never been sued by the artificial sweetener industry over the facts he’s brought to light about the dangers of using these synthetic man-made toxic chemical sweeteners. Why hasn’t the aspartame industry gone after him legally? Or after me for that matter, for my expose on artificial sweeteners called “Sweet Deception”?
“They all realized that they couldn’t answer my arguments. So they left me alone. They’re afraid that if it comes to a big standoff between me and them, they’re going to lose. What they’re doing is the old ploy of just ignoring and hoping it will go away. Of course, they put pressure on magazines, journals and newspapers not to interview me. They are trying to keep me in the shadows where they hope most people don’t hear anything I have to say. It only works for so long.”
If the FDA Approved Aspartame, it Must be Safe, Right?
The truth of the matter is the FDA rejected aspartame not once but multiple times. The scientific data just did not support it as a safe product. But the FDA is a federal agency subject to the political winds, and the people in charge of the agency have repeatedly and notoriously been accused of many conflicts of interest, both economically and ethically .
In 1975 the FDA came to the conclusion that aspartame should not be allowed on the market. They requested that further studies be conducted. The FDA’s next move was to set up a public board of inquiry composed of outside experts to investigate the safety of aspartame, and in 1980 that board unanimously rejected aspartame’s request for approval. According to a 60-Minutes story on aspartame , another internal FDA panel convened in 1980 also rejected aspartame for approval.
So it was three strikes against aspartame at this point, four strikes if you count the Bressler Report. This report was compiled in 1977 after FDA scientists looked into the field studies conducted on aspartame. The Bressler Report uncovered fraud and manipulation of data so serious that the FDA forwarded their files to the Chicago US Attorney’s office for prosecution.
How bad were the alleged crimes committed by G. D. Searle in an attempt to manipulate the safety studies on aspartame? Here is just one example contained in the Bressler Report:
“6) Observation records indicated that animal A23LM was alive at week 88, dead from week 92 through week 104, alive at week 108, and dead at week 112.”
In the 1996 60-Minutes story on aspartame, former Senator Howard Metzenbaum  states:
“According to the FDA themselves, Searle, when making their presentation to the FDA, had willfully misrepresented the facts, and withheld some of the facts that they knew would possibly jeopardize the approval.”
Metzenbaum’s staff investigated the aspartame approval process in 1987. He goes on to explain that:
“FDA officials were so upset they sent the file to the US Attorney’s office in Chicago for the purposes of presenting it to the grand jury as to whether or not there should be indictments. But it wasn’t presented. It was delayed.”
Samuel Skinner, the U.S. attorney who led the grand jury probe ended up withdrawing from the case when he entered into job discussions with Searle’s Chicago law firm, Sidley & Austin – a job he later accepted. Subsequently, the investigation stalled until the statute of limitation ran out, at which point the investigation against Searle was dropped.
For more details on the story of how aspartame made it through the FDA approval process despite warning signs of potential health hazards and alleged scientific fraud, please watch the 60-Minutes report , as Wallace does a nice job of summarizing an otherwise long story.
So the results of the scientific data were fairly clear up until 1980: Aspartame was a dangerous, brain tumor causing man-made poison and the company trying to get it into the food supply was recommended for prosecution by the FDA. You would think that would be the end of aspartame, right?
Not by a long shot.
Aspartame Finally Receives FDA Approval
So it was four strikes against aspartame, but Searle had a blockbuster product on its hands that was sure to lead to millions of dollars in profits. So what did the CEO of the company do?
Perhaps he called in some political favors.
It is no coincidence that the FDA Chairman who stood in the way of aspartame’s approval was removed from office the day Ronald Reagan took office. His replacement was in part orchestrated by Donald Rumsfeld, CEO of G.D. Searle, in order to allegedly get a friendly rubber stamp on the approval of what some doctors have called “an addictive excitoneurotoxic carcinogenic drug that interacts with drugs and vaccines.” 
But even with a friendly new FDA Chairman in place, the agency still rejected aspartame for approval by a 3-2 margin. What reprehensible, bordering on criminal action did Chairman Hayes do next? He added a sixth member to the approval board, who voted in favor of aspartame. Then, with a 3-3 tie on the issue, Chairman Hayes himself broke the deadlock with his own vote of approval for aspartame.
So he packed the board and then used his own vote as a tie-breaker. All apparently perfectly legal… And one of Hayes’ last acts in office before he left the FDA in1983 amid accusations that he was accepting corporate gifts for political favors, was to approve aspartame for use in beverages. Does this sound to you like a man-made synthetic chemical that should have ever been allowed into the world’s food supply?
If the FDA Keeps Aspartame on the Market, it Must be Safe, Right?
Once allowed on the market, the aspartame industry quickly became very profitable, creating a new multi-million dollar source of funds to influence the politicians in charge of overseeing and regulating food safety.
According to the video above, Searle and later Monsanto (who purchased the rights to aspartame), have spent thousands of dollars influencing the politicians who have been influential to keeping aspartame on the market, despite this toxic chemical being the number one source of side-effect complaints to the FDA, with over 10,000 complaints filed and over 91 symptoms documented that are related to its consumption.
This video  will familiarize you with some of the terrifying side-effects and health problems you could encounter if you consume products containing this chemical. Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well-known by doctors, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions, such as:
|Multiple sclerosis||Parkinson’s disease|
|Arthritis||Multiple chemical sensitivity|
|Chronic fatigue syndrome||Attention deficit disorder|
|Panic disorder||Depression and other psychological disorders|
|Lupus||Diabetes and diabetic complications|
So why is aspartame still on the market? In all likelihood, it was allowed on the market and remains on the market for political and economic reasons. According to Former Senator Metzembaum,
“I think the Chairman of the FDA (Hayes) wound up having some sort of economic relationship, beneficial to himself, with Searle Manufacturing, who at that time owned the rights to aspartame.”
And what about Donald Rumsfeld? Did he benefit financially from the approval of aspartame? He reportedly received a $12 million bonus when he left G.D. Searle, no doubt related to his ability to gain regulatory approval for what until 1981 had been a toxic poison that caused brain tumors in laboratory rats.
Are You Now the Lab Rat?
The answer unfortunately is yes, if you consume any of the more than 6,000 products that contain aspartame. And aspartame is not just in the food supply, it’s also added to pharmaceutical drugs to sweeten them. We are now beginning to see an explosion of unexplained brain tumors worldwide. Is it related to aspartame? This is certainly a possibility, as according to Dr. John Olney, “aspartame hasn’t been demonstrated to be safe.”
The “Real-World” Case of Edith Johnson
This issue isn’t a merely a theoretical debate about food safety versus politics, or about an industry poisoning the world for the sake of profits. This issue is about real people in the real world ingesting a potent neurotoxin on a daily basis, and the damage aspartame is causing to real people.
“I was horrified, I was panic stricken, I was scared to death,” says Edith Johnson in the video above. “Within a matter of moments I went completely blind.”
Edith is talking about the experience she had while drinking a cup of low-calorie hot chocolate. “All of a sudden I couldn’t see. My eyes went out of focus. I think it’s very deliberately because of aspartame.” Continues Edith, “they had no right to market it (aspartame). My message to people is to drink water. You don’t need aspartame in your life.”
The “Real-World” Case of Kate Randall
Kate Randall, also featured in the video above, drank nine Diet Cokes a day for five years and developed a twitch in her eye that several doctors could not explain, although the doctors did apparently rule aspartame out as a cause of the afflictions.
“I started popping in my hands and twitching in my feet. My legs, my knees, my upper legs and shoulders and arms and everywhere. My chin, neck and temples started to twitch.”
All of the tests the doctors ran came back negative, so she decided to do her own research into her strange symptoms.Continues Kate, “I absolutely believe that it (aspartame) was (responsible for) the breakdown of my health for two years.”
What would Kate like to tell people about aspartame?
The Trouble with the Phenylalanine and Aspartic Acid in Aspartame
Aspartame is a synthetic chemical composed of three ingredients – two amino acids and a methyl ester bond. The amino acids are phenylalanine and aspartic acid, two common components of many foods that are usually completely safe for consumption. But not in the case of aspartame.
Forgetting for a moment that aspartame is metabolized inside your body into both wood alcohol (a poison) and formaldehyde (which embalms tissue and is not eliminated from your body through the normal waste filtering done by your liver and kidneys), the trouble with the component parts of aspartame is one of volume.
In a normal protein like meat, fish or eggs, phenylalanine and aspartic acid comprise 4-5 percent each of the total amino acid profile. This is how nature intends the human body to encounter these two amino acids and there is nothing wrong with these substances if they occur naturally in a proper balance with other amino acids.
But in aspartame the ratio of these two amino acids is 50 percent phenylalanine and 40 percent aspartic acid (with 10 percent methyl ester bond, aka wood alcohol, a known poison). In other words, on a percentage basis this is a massive quantity of two unnaturally isolated amino acids that are simply not found in this ratio in nature, bonded together by a known poison.
The result of this chemical cocktail is a sweet tasting neurotoxin. As a result of its unnatural structure, your body processes the amino acids found in aspartame very differently from a steak or a piece of fish. The amino acids in aspartame literally attack your cells, even crossing the blood-brain barrier to attack your brain cells, creating a toxic cellular overstimulation, called excitotoxicity. MSG is also an excitotoxin, and works synergistically with aspartame to create even more damage to your brain cells.
This is how aspartame causes brain tumors. Adding to the problem, according to Dr. Blaylock:
“Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growth and metastasis. In fact, one aspartame researcher noticed that, when cancer cells  were exposed to aspartame, they became more mobile, and you see the same effect with MSG . It also causes a cancer cell to become more mobile, and that enhances metastasis, or spread. These MSG-exposed cancer cells developed all of these pseudopodians and started moving through tissues.“
Aspartame Included on the EPA’s Potentially Dangerous Chemicals List!
As rates of learning disabilities, autism and related neurological disorders like lupus and MS skyrocket in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to release a roster of the pollutants likely to contribute to these or other neurological disorders. Aspartame has been included on this list.
In an ongoing, three-year effort, an EPA team has determined which developmental neurotoxicants — chemicals that damage a fetal and infant brain — may pose the biggest risk to the American public.
A partial listing of chemicals that will be included on the EPA’s dangerous chemicals list :
- Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in sodas, and in other foods and drinks;
- Bisphenol A, a chemical widely used in consumer goods, including the resin lining of most food and beverage cans; products made from polycarbonate plastics, which include water bottles and baby bottles, and some dental sealants;
- Cadmium, a heavy metal that is used in batteries, coatings and pigments, and is plentiful in tobacco smoke.
- PBDEs a class of chemical flame retardants.
- Pesticides and insect repellents, including aldicarb, DEET, lindane, (used for lice and scabies), maneb, and paraquat.
- Trichloroethylene, formerly used in dry cleaning but still available as a cleaning and degreasing agent and a contaminant in drinking water.
Report Adverse Reactions!
For more information on the dangers of aspartame, visit http://aspartame.mercola.com .
By all means, also please forward this article to your friends and loved ones who are still drinking diet sodas and poisoning themselves. You can make a difference on this issue by helping to spread the word. You may help save the life of someone you love, if you can get them off this toxic neurological poison before they too experience strange symptoms that their doctor or doctors simply cannot explain or mistake for something else.
And if you experience an adverse reaction to any aspartame product, I urge you to call the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator  in your area.