A compilation of observations among physicians, researchers and laypeople who have demonstrated the link between aspartame consumption and the cascade of adverse neurodevelopmental and physiological complications occurring epidemically among children and; foundational science and observations regarding the link of adverse neurodevelopmental and physical complications of monosodium glutamate consumption.
This report has been prepared especially for parents, physicians, teachers, school administrators and lawmakers so they may understand the short and long-term dangers of aspartame consumption and the importance of removing from school cafeterias, vending machines and student stores food products that contain aspartame.
The Feingold Association
Mission Possible Founder Betty Martini
Russell Blaylock, MD
Sandra Cabot, MD
Joseph Mercola, MD
H.J. Roberts, MD
John Olney, MD
Ralph Walton, MD
9270 River Club Pkwy.
Duluth, GA 30097
Report on Aspartame and Children
By Ralph G. Walton, M.D.
Although undoubtedly well intentioned, any attempt to replace sugared beverages with aspartame containing diet products will, in my opinion, have a devastating impact on the health of our children and adolescents. The alarming increase in obesity, type II diabetes, and a wide variety of behavioral difficulties in our children is obviously attributable to multiple factors, but I am convinced that one powerful force in accentuating these problems is the ever increasing use of aspartame.
Aspartame is a multipotential toxin and carcinogen. The dipeptide component of the molecule can alter brain chemistry, significantly changing the ratio of catecholamines to indolamines, with resultant lowering of seizure threshold, production of carbohydrate craving and in vulnerable individuals leading to panic, depressive and cognitive symptoms.
The methyl ester component of aspartame is metabolized to methanol, which in turn is broken down into formic acid and formaldehyde. Methanol can lead to serious eye problems, formic acid and formaldehyde are potent carcinogens. The diet food industry and the F.D.A. are fond of saying that aspartame is “the most studied product in history” with an outstanding safety record. In fact however virtually all of the studies in the medical literature attesting to its safety were funded by the industry, whereas independently funded studies, now numbering close to 100, identify one or more problems. It would be especially tragic if an attempt to improve the health of our children led to even greater exposure to this highly toxic product. Thank you for your attention to this urgent public health issue.
Ralph G. Walton, M.D.
Medical Director, Safe Harbor Behavioral Health
Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine
Adjunct Professor Of Psychiatry, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Walton’s study on aspartame: “Adverse Reactions to Aspartame: Double-Blind Challenge in Patients from a Vulnerable Population:
Dr. Walton’s research on Scientific Peer Reviewed Studies and Funding:
The Dangers of Aspartame
Russell Blaylock, MD, is arguably the world’s foremost authority on the biochemistry of aspartame and its effect on brain function. Dr. Blaylock classifies aspartame alongside monosodium glutamate as an “excitotoxin”—substances that overstimulate brain cells causing cascades of neurological complications. His book, “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills,” is considered by many to be a definitive work in the field of excitotoxicity.
By Russell Blaylock, MD
In 1965, a researcher at G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company inadvertently discovered the artificial sweetener aspartame while working on an anti-ulcer medication. It was discovered that the sweetener was about 150 times sweeter than an equal amount of sugar. Over the next decade, the research staff at the G.D. Searle Company conducted a series of studies in an effort to get the product approved by the FDA.
Over all this consisted of about 11 different studies. In 1974 aspartame was approved for use only in dry foods. Its approval was based on these studies. Yet, even before these studies were being presented to the FDA, the pharmaceutical giant was under investigation for improprieties associated with several of its other drugs.
No basis for reliance
During this investigation, Dr. Adrian Gross was placed in charge of examining these studies and Jerome Bressler was assigned to examine three of the studies. This investigation included a through examination of the pathology laboratory used in the tests, interviews with the scientists and technicians involved and a careful analytic review of the studies themselves.
In a letter to Senator Howard Metzenbaum, Dr. Gross discussed many of their findings in this investigation. He pointed out that at the heart of the regulatory process was the ability of the FDA to “rely upon the integrity of the basic safety data submitted” to the FDA. Further, he says, “Our investigation clearly demonstrates that, in the case of G.D. Searle Company, we have no basis for such reliance now.”
He then pinpoints why he had reached this conclusion, when he states:
“Through our efforts, we have uncovered serious deficiencies in Searle’s operations and practices which undermine the basis for reliance on Searle’s integrity in conducting high quality animal research to accurately determine or characterize the toxic potential of its products.”
Who cares about the unborn?
Dr. Gross expressed his disdain at the way teratology experiments were conducted. These are critical tests with any new drug because it determines possible dangers to unborn children when their mothers are exposed to the product during pregnancy. He found that technicians responsible for the tests had no formal training in teratology or toxicology. In fact, they were given some books by the company and trained themselves for three months.
Of most concern was the way the carcinogenicity tests were conducted. These are tests to see if the product could cause cancer. According to the law, any product intended as a food product cannot have demonstrated cancer-causing ability at a dose 100 times that which is commonly consumed.
Even though the tests were poorly conducted they did demonstrate that aspartame was associated with a dramatic, dose-dependent, increase in a variety of brain tumors-mainly astrocytomas-the type commonly seen in humans. This means that the higher the dose of aspartame the more tumors that were found.
The most appalling findings were by Dr. Bressler’s investigation group. They found that in several instances malignant tumors were classified as benign and that in others, tumors were removed from rats and tissue slides and reported as normal.
Dr. John Olney, a neuropathologist and neuroscientist, pointed out to FDA investigators that aspartame contained at least two distinct components that could harm the brain—diketopiperizine and aspartic acid. The former is a suspected carcinogen and the latter an excitatory amino acid. As a world expert on excitotoxicity, a process where amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid causes brain cells to be excited to death, he understood the real danger to babies and small children. His laboratory studies had demonstrated that high dose aspartame could cause the very same brain injury as other excitotoxins.
The 1974 approval was withdrawn and after the results of these investigations were reviewed privately, aspartame was given approval once again in 1981. Ironically, it was approved using the very same studies that resulted in it being banned as too dangerous for human consumption in 1975.
Aspartame and brain tumors
In 1981, Arthur Hull Hayes was appointed commissioner of the FDA and in 1983 he approved aspartame for use in beverages. Three months later her left the FDA and accepted a position as the Senior Medical Advisor to Searle’s PR firm of Burson-Marstellar.
Despite the objections of Dr. Olney and other neuroscientists and pathologists, the product was given approval, essentially for all foods and beverages.
In 1992, Dr. Olney published a study that suggested that the significant rise in human brain tumors was related to the widespread use of aspartame, since it began after the approval of aspartame in foods and beverages. In Searle’s original study Dr. Olney found that there was a 47-fold increase in brain tumors in the rats exposed to high dose aspartame. Even Searle’s figures showed a 25-fold increase in brain tumors.
Using existing data, Dr. Olney and his co-authors found a 65-percent increase in brain tumors in humans since aspartame was approved by the FDA. Dr. H.J. Roberts also reported a similar rise in a rare form of brain cancer associated with aspartame use.
Brain tumors in lab rats—and people
And a recent study by one of Europe’s most prestigious oncology groups (a million dollar study) found a non-statistically significant increase in brain tumors in 1,800 rats tested using aspartame. The control animals, which received no aspartame, developed no brain tumors, whereas the aspartame exposed animals developed 10 malignant gliomas, 1 medulloblastoma and 1 malignant meningioma. I have had contact with a number of young women who have developed brain tumors (astrocytomas) following heavy use of aspartame products. When we combined the experimental studies with the clinical data it is obvious that aspartame is strongly linked to brain tumors and most likely lymphomas and leukemias.
Of great concern is the study by Trocho and his co-workers from the University of Barcelona, which found that aspartame was absorbed and then broken down into its component parts, including methanol and the methanol was further broken down into formic acid and formaldehyde. Using sophisticated radioactive labeling techniques he proved that the formaldehyde from the aspartame attached itself to the DNA, RNA and proteins of cells and that it was very difficult to removed. Further, they showed that the formaldehyde caused breaks in the DNA.
This has major implications in humans, since DNA damage, as was seen in their study, causes a multitude of cancers in humans as well as worsening of autoimmune diseases, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s and ALS. It also causes concern because DNA breaks in the DNA in sperm and ova can cause increased cancer risk and developmental problems in the offspring of mothers and fathers consuming aspartame products.
In the Bressler examination of the Searle tumor study they found that the female animals exposed to aspartame had a very high incidence of uterine polyps, which were rare in rats not exposed. In fact, at even moderate doses, there was a 15-fold increase in uterine polyps. In addition, they found several ovarian tumors, breast fibroadenomas, several pituitary adenomas, several lymphomas and pancreatic tumors.
The new million-dollar study by Dr. Morando Soffritti and co-workers found a dramatic increase in malignant lymphomas and leukemias in female rats consuming even low doses of aspartame—doses known to be consumed by millions of children, pregnant women and others. Their carefully done study concluded that most likely it was the formaldehyde breakdown product from the aspartame that was causing the cancers, which confirms what Trocho and co-workers had found earlier. Formaldehyde is known to be a powerful toxin and carcinogen, even in low concentrations.
WARNING for pregnant women
Of great concern was the finding by Trocho, that formaldehyde tends to accumulate in the DNA and is difficult to remove. This means that drinking even a single diet cola sweetened with aspartame can eventually produce significant DNA damage to raise one’s risk of cancer and other diseases. Today, over 5,000 products contain aspartame. It is also important to appreciate that we are exposed to a number of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, which can add to aspartame’s toxicity.
There are sufficient studies on the effect of aspartame on the developing fetus to draw serious concern about the safety of this product. For example, it has been shown that aspartame in the dose accepted as safe by the FDA (50 mg/kg/day) can produce phenylalanine levels in a large number of women and their babies during pregnancy-large enough to produce abnormal development of the baby’s brain. This is because phenylalanine interferes with the normal migration and connections of the developing brain. In my estimation, pregnant women should never consume foods containing aspartame at any level, for the reasons I have discussed. The aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol are all known to produce abnormal development of a baby’s brain.
Revealing side study
There is also evidence from the studies done by Dr. Ralph Walton, indicating that depressed people are especially sensitive to the toxic effects of aspartame and that this is especially true of those with suicidal tendencies. In a separate study he has shown that virtually all of the independently conducted studies done on aspartame safety have found problems with the product, yet not a single study funded by the makers of aspartame (now Monsanto) reported even minor problems.
This is especially puzzling when you consider that among all the food-related complained registered by the FDA, 75 percent to 85 percent are related to aspartame. This alone should tell us there is a problem.
There are sufficient independent studies to show that aspartame is a dangerous product and that it should have never been given approval. In fact, it was approved using the same shoddy studies alluded to by Dr. Adrian Gross in his letter to Senator Howard Metzenbaum
1. Letter to Senator Howard Metzenbaum from Dr. Adrian Gross, dated October 30, 1987.
2. Jerome Bressler, The Bressler Report, 4/25/77 to 8/4/77
3. Olney JW. Excitotoxins in foods. Neurotoxicology 1994;15:535-544.
4. Olney JW, et al. Brain damage in mice from voluntary ingestion of glutamate and aspartate. Neurobehavoral Toxicolology 1980; 2: 125-129.
5. Reynolds WA. Et al. Hypothalamic morphology following ingestion of aspartame or MSG in the neonatal rodent and primate: a preliminary report. Environmental Health 1976;2: 471-480.
6. Brunner RL, et al. Aspartame: assessment of developmental psychotoxicity of a new artificial sweetener Neurobehavioral Toxicology 1979;1: 79-86.
7. Wurtman RJ. Aspartame: possible effect on seizure susceptibility. Lancet 1985;9
8. Maher TJ, et al. Possible neurologic effects of aspartame, a widely used food additive. Environmental Health Perspectives. 1987;75: 53-57.
9. Walton RG, The possible role of aspartame in seizure induction. In, Wurtman RJ, Ritter-Walker E. (eds); Dietary
Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Birkhauser, Boston, 1988, pp 159-162.
10. Changes in physiological concentrations of blood phenylalanine produce changes in sensitive parameters of human brain function. In, Wurtman RJ, Ritter-Walker E. (eds); Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Birkhauser, Boston, 1988, pp187-195.
11. Christian B, et al. Chronic aspartame affects T-maze performance, brain cholinergic receptors and Na+, K+-ATPase in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 2004;78:121-127.
12. Nakao H, et al. Formaldehyde-induced shrinkage of rat thymocytes. Journal of Pharmacological Science 2003; 91: 83-86.
13. H.J. Roberts. Does aspartame cause human brain cancer? Journal of Advancement in Medicine 1991; 4: 231-240.
14. Trocho C, et al. Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. Life Sciences 1998;63:337-349.
15. Scoffritti M, et al. Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukemias in rats. European Journal of Oncology 2005; 10: (in press)
16. Sabelli HC and Javaid JI. Phenylaethylamine modulation of affect: therapeudic and diagnostic implications. Journal of
Neuropsychiatry 1995; 7: 6-14.
17. Scharma RP, et al. cerebrospinal fluid levels of phenylacetic acid in mental illness: behavioral associations and response to neuroleptic treatment. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1995; 91: 293-298.
18. Robain O, et al. Experimental phenylketonuria: effect of phenylacetate intoxication on number of synapses in cerebellar cortex of rats. Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 1983; 61: 313-315.
19. Matalon R, et al. Aspartame consumption in normal individuals and carriers of phenylketonuria. In, Wurtman RJ, Ritter-Walker E. (eds); Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function. Birkhauser, Boston, 1988, pp41-52.
20. Monte WC. Aspartame: methanol and public health. Journal of
Applied Nutrition 1984; 36: 52.
21. Walton RG, et al. Adverse reactions to aspartame: double-blind challenge in patients from a vulnerable population. Biological Psychiatry 1993; 34: 13-17.
22. Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins LN. Increasing brain tumor rates: is there a link to aspartame? J Neuropathology Experimental Neurology. 1996;55:1115-23.
Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., Neurosurgeon (retired)
Visiting Professor of Biology Belhaven College, Jackson, Mississippi
Dr. Blaylock is a world renowned neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health & Nutrition Secrets To Save Your Life and Natural Strategies For Cancer Patients.Web site: www.russellblaylockmd.com
He can be seen in the aspartame documentary, Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, www.amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. He has a monthly newsleletter:The Blaylock Wellness Report: www.blaylockreport.com
On autism: http://www.dorway.com/blayautism.txt On brain problems: http://www.dorway.com/blayart1.txt
Excitotoxins, Neurodegeneration and Neurodevelopment: http://www.dorway.com/blayenn.html
Miami Herald Letter, Exposing Calorie Control Council, front group: http://www.wnho.net/mh_aspartame_letter.htm
Media contacts through Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum., Founder, Mission Possible Intl, 9270 River Club Parkway, Duluth, Georgia (770) 242-2599 Bettym19@mindspring.com
www.dorway.com, Aspartame Information List, www.wnho.net
Aspartame products: Potentially dangerous to infants, children and future generations
“The chemicals we ingest may affect more than our own health. They affect the health and vitality of future generations. The danger is that many of these chemicals may not harm us but will do silent violence to our children.”
~Senator Abraham Ribicoff (l971)
by H. J. Roberts, M.D., FACP, FCCP
I have studied the numerous
adverse effects of products containing the chemical aspartame for a quarter
century as a corporate-neutral physician (board-certified internist; member of
the Endocrine Society and
The prime motive for this ongoing effort to remove aspartame from products available in commerce is the enormous toll in illness, disability and death attributable to aspartame disease…and failure of the medical profession and many governmental and other public health agencies to concern themselves with this ignored epidemic. The fact that over two-thirds of adults in our society consume aspartame products, and approximately 40 percent of children, often in prodigious amounts, provides perspective.
Perhaps the most grievous aspect pertains to the damage that these products can induce in infants and children. Moreover, aspartame could affect subsequent generations borne to mothers who were misled about the safety of this and related chemicals. Indeed, some who regard the widespread promotion of aspartame products to these groups as “crimes against humanity” have urged the banning of aspartame products for their imminent threat to human health.
A case in point is the full page ad that appeared in Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals magazine (November 2004) titled, “Remember your first taste of Aspartame?” depicting an infant feeding at its mother’s breast (see page 15). It noted that the chief ingredients of aspartame are two building blocks of protein “…just like those founds in eggs, fruit cheese or fish – and even in mothers’ milk.”
In my January, 2005 objection to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about such perceived deceptive advertising in “a material respect,” I listed the following reasons:
(1) omission of other major components of aspartame, especially the 10 percent free methyl alcohol (methanol)
(2) the profound adverse effects of the large amounts of its “two building blocks of protein” on neurotransmitters and other important systems, and
(3) the absence of any references to the terrible reactions induced by aspartame products in numerous infants and children.”
Aspartame disease in
infants and children
The manifestations of aspartame disease in young children include severe headache, convulsions, unexplained vision loss, rashes, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, marked weight loss, hypoglycemia, diabetes, addiction (probably largely due to the methyl alcohol), hyperthyroidism, and a host of neuropsychiatric features. The latter include extreme fatigue, irritability, hyperactivity, depression, antisocial behavior (including suicide), poor school performance, the deterioration of intelligence and brain tumors.
Each of these disorders and the underlying mechanisms is detailed in my books, especially Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic. They tend to be magnified in patients with unrecognized hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar reactions), diabetes and phenylketonuria (PKU). Persons with PKU lack the enzyme needed for handling phenylalanine, one of the amino acids (It’s dramatic increase in the body can cause severe neurological and other damage if aspartame abstinence and other dietary precautions are not instituted).
It is my further opinion that exposure to aspartame products and other neurotoxins may initiate or aggravate changes in the nervous system that result in multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The latter issue is detailed in my book, “Defense Against Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Pregnant women and nursing mothers
I continue to urge ALL pregnant women and mothers who breast-feed to avoid aspartame products…advice that many of my obstetric colleagues have adopted.
This precaution has been dramatically demonstrated as valid by the occurrence of convulsions in suckling infants as the mother drank an aspartame soda. The scientific grounds for the foregoing continue to increase. They include:
• exposure of the fetus to considerable phenylalanine and methanol
• maternal malnutrition associated with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a reduction of calories
• transmission of aspartame and its breakdown components via the mother’s milk
• the increased “allergic load,” thereby risking future hypersensitivity problems
Birth defects and subsequent generational stigmas
The finding of aspartame metabolites in DNA clearly has profound implications. I have described severe problems in the fetus or the infants of parents—including fathers—who consumed aspartame at the time of conception and/or during pregnancy.
Epidemiological studies will be necessary to corroborate the role of aspartame consumption in medical, neurological, metabolic, immune and neoplastic disorders involving subsequent generations.
The urgent need for action
It is clear to all who have studied the matter that the initial approval of aspartame by the FDA in l981—in the face of severe objections from its in-house scientists, consultants for the General Accounting Office, and even a Public Board of Inquiry—was an erroneous political decision. This opinion is supported by considerable clinical experience, an increasing number of credible scientific studies, and demographic evidence relating to the contributory role of aspartame sodas and other products in the dramatic increase of obesity, diabetes, attention deficit disorder, brain tumors and other malignancies in children.
In the light of this information, it is incumbent upon governmental agencies and consumers to severely curtail or stop the use of ALL aspartame products—including aspartame-sweetened vitamins, drugs and supplements. This also applies to a number of derivatives of aspartame and other chemicals that have not been evaluated by corporate-neutral investigators over sufficient periods of time using real-world products. Failure to do so invites the tragedy of a human “silent spring.”
The full spectrum of the mild to severe, even lethal adverse effects of aspartame use have been detailed in Dr. Roberts’ numerous articles, reports, studies letters and books. A comprehensive list of references to the literature Dr. Roberts has published on the subject of aspartame is available at www.wnho.net/aspartame_potential_danger.htm
Roberts, H. J.: Neurologic, psychiatric and behavioral reactions to aspartame in 505 aspartame reactors. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Dietary Phenylalani8ne and Brain Function, edited by R. J. Wurtman and E.
Ritter-Walker, Washington, D.C., May 8-10, l987, pp. 477-481
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame (NutraSweet) associated confusion and memory loss: A Possible human model for early Alzheimer’s disease. Abstract 306. Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Boston, February 13, l988.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame (NutraSweet) associated epilepsy. Clinical Research l988; 36:349A.
Roberts, H. J.: Complications associated with aspartame (NutraSweet) in diabetics. Clinical Research l988:3:489A
Roberts, H .J.: The Aspartame Problem. Statement for Committee on Labor and Human Resources, U.S. Senate, Hearing on “NutraSweet” Health and Safety Concerns, November 3, l987, 83-178, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, l988, pp. 466-467
Roberts, H. J.: Reactions attributed to aspartame-containing products: 551 cases, Journal of Applied Nutrition l988; 40:85-94
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame (NutraSweet): Is It Safe? Philadelphia, The Charles Press, 1989
Roberts, H. J.: Does aspartame cause human brain cancer? Journal of Advancement in Medicine 1991: 4 (Winter):231-241
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame-associated confusion and memory loss. Townsend Letter for Doctors 1991:June:442-443.
Roberts, H. J.: Myasthenia gravis associated with aspartame use. Townsend Letter for Doctors 1991; August/September: 699-700.
Roberts, H. J.: Joint pain associated with aspartame use. Townsend Letter for Doctors
Roberts, H.J.: Sweet’ner Dearest: Bittersweet Vignettes About Aspartame (NutraSweet). West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, Inc. l992.
Roberts, H.J.: Unexplained headaches and seizures. Townsend Letter for Doctors, 1992: 1001-1002.
Roberts, H.J.: Safety of aspartame (Letter) Townsend Letter for Doctors 1992: November:977-978.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame: Is it safe? Interview with H. J. Robert, M.D., Mastering Food Allergies 1992: 7 (#1), 3-6.
Roberts, H. J.: Testimony: Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Monosodium Glutamate. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Bethesda, April 8, 1993.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame (NutraSweet) NOHA News 1993; Winter:5-6.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame-associated dry mouth (xerostomia). Townsend Letter for Doctors 1993; February/March: 201-202.
Roberts, H. J.: “Dry eyes” from use of aspartame (NutraSweet). Townsend Letter for Doctors 1994;January:82-83.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame as a cause for diarrhea in diabetics. Townsend Letter for Doctors 1994; June:623-624.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame and headache. Neurology 1995; 45:1631-1633.
Roberts, H. J.: Defense Against Alzheimer’s Disease: A Rational Blueprint for Prevention. West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press. 1995.
Roberts, H. J.: Lactose Intolerance. (Letter) New England Journal of Medicine 1995; 333:1359
Roberts, H. J.: Memory loss and aspartame. Townsend Letter for Doctors 1995; August/September:99-100
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame as a cause of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 1996; 156:1027
Roberts, H. J.: Critique of the Official Australia and New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) Position on Aspartame. Soil & Health 1997; July/September: 15.
Roberts, H .J.: Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease (Letter) Neurology 1997; 48-549-55.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame effects during pregnancy and childhood. (Letter) Latitudes 1997; 3 (Number 1):3
Roberts, H. J.: “Dry eyes” from use of aspartame. Associated insights concerning the Sjogren syndrome. Focus (Information Forum For Retinal Degenerative Disorders) 1998: Volume 3 (No. 3):16-17.
Roberts, H. J.: Submission to FDA regarding Docket No. 981F-0052 (Food Additive Petition for Neotame), March 3, 1998.
Roberts, H. J.: What’s blinding the world? Focus (Information Forum for Retinal Degenerative Disorders) 1998; Volume 3 (No. 3): 15-16
Roberts, H. J.: Ignored Health Hazards for Pilots and Drivers: The A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H File West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 1998.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame toxicity denied – Dr. Roberts responds. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 1998; April:110-113.
Roberts, H. J.: The CACOF Conspiracy: Lessons of the New Millennium. West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 1998.
Roberts, H. J.: Unrecognized aspartame disease in silicone breast implant patients. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 1998; May:74-75.
Roberts, H. J.: Unrecognized Aspartame Disease in Silicone Breast Implant Patients. Solicited Statement for the Committee on the Safety of Silicone Breast Implants, Institute for Medicine, Washington, D.C. Submitted on June 4, 1998.
Roberts, H. J.: Breast Implants or Aspartame (NutraSweet) Disease? The Suppressed Opinion About a Perceived Medicolegal Travesty. West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 1999.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame (NutraSweet) addiction. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2000; January (#198): 52-57.
Roberts, H. J.: Carpal tunnel syndrome due to aspartame disease. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2000; November: 82-84.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 2001.
Roberts, H.J.: Response to the assessment by the Alzheimer’s Association concerning Research and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2001; May:111-112.
Roberts, H .J.: The labeling minefield, with emphasis on aspartame. Nutrition Health Review 2001; #80:6.
Roberts, H. J.: Reply and commentary to the NutraSweet Company’s senior medical Consultant. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2001; October:93-95.
Roberts, H. J.: Pseudotumor cerebri due to aspartame disease. Townsend Letter For Doctors & Patients 2002;June:66-68.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame-induced dyspnea and pulmonary hypertension. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2003; January:6465.
Roberts, H .J.: Useful Insights for Diagnosis Treatment and Public Health. West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Institute for Medical Research, 2002.
Roberts, H. J.: The trouble with sweeteners. Nutrition Health Review 2003; July (#85): 3-6.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame disease: A possible cause for concomitant Graves’disease and Pulmonary hypertension. Texas Heart Institute Journal. 2004; 31:105
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame-induced arrhythmias and sudden death. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2004; May:121.
Roberts, H. J.: The potential hazard of aspartame absorption from within the mouth. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients 2004; July:100.
Roberts, H. J.: Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic. 3 cassette audio set. (ISBN 1-884243-207). West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 2005. Roberts, H. J.: Mommylinks to Health: Aspartame (NutraSweet) Disease. CD
(1-884243-134) West Palm Beach, Sunshine Sentinel Press, 2005.
(Dr. Roberts can be seen in the aspartame documentary: Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, www.amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. He is an internationally known medical consultant and researcher. He is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in The World, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and The Best Doctors in the U.S. He has been knighted by the Order of St. George for his humanitarianism. His web site is www.sunsentpress.com or 1 800 827 7991. Many of the reports I his references can be read on www.dorway.com and www.wnho.net )
Nutrasweet and Cancer
By Joseph Mercola, MD
Dr. Morando Soffritti and his international team of researchers have been investigating the link between aspartame and leukemia for a number of years. Last fall, we received the first tidbits about his long-term study of aspartame on rats and more horrible health risks.
His study is finally published, and the news is as bad as expected. More than 200 million people consume aspartame in their foods, drinks, vitamins and toothpaste, among other things, and their exposure to it frequently begins in the womb, so there’s simply no telling how massive the problem truly is.
Will Dr. Soffritti’s latest findings provoke far more scrutiny about the debatable safety of artificial sweeteners? I certainly hope so.
However, it will probably retain its profit-motive driven defenders, such as former G.D. Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld. But despite their claims, the evidence is quite compelling that artificial sweeteners are not good for you; leukemia is just one of more than 90 different related symptoms that have been documented in humans who ingest aspartame.
If you are time pressured like me and just don’t have the time to read the enormous amount of compelling evidence that makes the case for why you or anyone you love should never consume aspartame, then I would strongly recommend ordering the video “Sweet Misery.” (www.soundandfuryproductions.com)
Without question, it is the single best summary of the issues of aspartame toxicity and some of the leading crusaders for bringing the truth to the public are in the film.
The phenylalanine in aspartame dissociates from the ester bond and increases dopamine levels in your brain. This can lead to symptoms of depression because it distorts the serotonin/dopamine balance. It can also lead to migraine headaches and brain tumors through a similar mechanism.
Furthermore, the aspartic acid in aspartame is a well-documented excitotoxin. Excitotoxins are usually amino acids, such as glutamate and aspartate. These special amino acids cause particular brain cells to become excessively excited, to the point they will quickly die. Excitotoxins can also cause a loss of brain synapses and connecting fibers.
Then the ester bond in aspartame is broken down to formaldehyde and methanol, which have their own toxicities. So it is absolutely no surprise that leukemia is associated with using it.
If you are having trouble kicking the, in this case, “diet” soda habit, then please read our recent article on how to easily get rid of your soda addiction (go to www.mercoloa.com).
And if you’re drinking diet drinks in an attempt to lose weight, they won’t help you; diet soft drinks can double your obesity risks. If you want to lose weight, eat according to your metabolic type and start an appropriate exercise plan.
Dr. Mercola is proponent of health freedom through informed consent and hosts one of the world’s most dynamic and comprehensive health information websites at www.mercola.com. Those who have an interest in medical issues affecting themselves and their families are encouraged to visit the site to obtain cutting edge news and health information.
Letter to the Alabama Board of Education
By Dr. Betty Martini
July 12, 2005: To the Alabama Board of Education and Press:
Suppose someone offered you this deal: “Let us feed your children products that trigger learning and behavioral problems, cause obesity, interact with drugs and vaccines, precipitate diabetes, trigger brain fog, blindness, retardation, seizures and produce 92 symptoms including death, by FDA report? Would you consent? And by the way an ingredient is an addictive narcotic that hooks them for life, and shortens it. Student athletes will suddenly drop dead when it damages their cardiac conduction systems. It also is a chemical hypersensitization agent. No member of the Board would allow such an atrocity.
But what if they offer you money? What is a fair price for the lives and health of your children? This question is before you now, and the soft drink vendors are right outside the door with their checkbooks. Am I telling the truth? Listen to these authorities:
The long National Soft Drink Association petition to Congress against the approval of aspartame was published in the May 7, 1985 Congressional Record: “Searle has not met its burdens under section 409....to demonstrate that aspartame is safe and functional for use in soft drinks...The extensive deficiencies in the stability studies conducted by Searle to demonstrate that aspartame and its degradation products [methyl alcohol, formaldehyde, formic acid, diketopiperazine, etc] are safe in soft drinks intended to be sold in the United States, render these studies inadequate and unreliable.
“There have been hundreds of reports from consumers around the country suggesting a possible relationship between their consumption of NutraSweet and subsequent symptoms including headaches, aberrational behavior, slurred speech, etc. ... Aspartame has been demonstrated to inhibit the carbohydrate-induced-synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin (Wurtman affidavit). Serotonin blunts the sensation of craving carbohydrates and thus is part of the body’s feedback system that helps limit the consumption of carbohydrate to appropriate levels. Its inhibition by aspartame could lead to the anomalous result of a diet product causing increased consumption of carbohydrates.”
Causing obesity! Read the entire protest
Dr. Louis Elsas, Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics at Emory University, in Congressional testimony stated: “I have considerable concern for the increased dissemination and consumption of the sweetener aspartame in our world food supply. This artificial dipeptide is hydrolyzed by the intestinal tract to produce L-phenylalanine which in excess is a known neurotoxin. ... In the rapidly growing post natal brain (children of 0-12 months) irreversible brain damage could occur.”
Dr. H. J. Roberts, F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., named the “best doctor in the country” by a national medical publication in his paper “Warning School Children at Risk”: “Aspartame induced disorders in children include headache, confusion, convulsions, irritability, depression, intellectual deterioration, antisocial behavior, rashes, asthma and unstable diabetes. Addiction to aspartame products has also become a problem.”
Dr. Roberts authored three medical texts on aspartame toxicity, including “Aspartame Disease, and Ignored Epidemic,” 1,038 pages.
Today I was in contact with Certified Neurodevelopmentalist Kay Ness, (ICAN) who warned: “All my work is trying to help children overcome attention and learning problems. A big part is basic nutrition to help them function better. It is no myth that improved nutrition improves brain function. Parents try hard to improve the diets of their children and despair when they have easy access to junk food and soda pop at schools. One principal, while drinking a diet soda, told me it meant $6,000/year in cash for the school, so he’d keep the machine. So we have the spectacle of children on psychoactive medications, parents trying to help them, and schools undermining the best interests of the children. If the school board truly cares for the children they will eliminate these chemicals, especially since the only motive for keeping these machines is money.”
What happens when pop and vending machines are removed. A 2002 report from the Feingold Association’s True Facts newsletter reveals:
“In Appleton, Wisconsin, a revolution has occurred. It’s taken place in the Central Alternative High School. The kids now behave. The hallways aren’t frantic. Even the teachers are happy. The school used to be out of control. Kids packed weapons. Discipline problems swamped the principal’s office. But not since 1997. What happened?
“In 1997 a private group called Natural Ovens began installing a healthy lunch program. Fast food burgers, fries and burritos gave way to fresh salads, meats prepared with old-fashioned recipes and whole grain bread. Fresh fruits were added to the menu. Good drinking water arrived. Vending machines were removed.
“As reported in a newsletter called Pure Facts: Grades are up, truancy is no longer a problem, arguments are rare, and teachers are able to spend their time teaching.”
Pure Facts is published by The Feingold Association, part of its mission to generate public awareness of the potential role of foods and synthetic additives in behavior, learning and health problems. Feingold banned aspartame.
The report continues: “If what happened in Appleton, Wisconsin takes hold in many other communities across America, perhaps the ravenous corporations who invade school space with their vending machines and junk food will be tossed out on their behinds. It could happen. And perhaps ADHD will become a dinosaur. A non-disease that was once attributed to errant brain chemistry. And perhaps Ritalin will be seen as just another toxic chemical that was added to the bodies of kids in crazed attempt to put a lid on behavior that, in part, was the result of a subversion of the food supply.”
Why even think of allowing our children to drink products that break down to a brain tumor agent, DKP, which triggered brain tumors in original studies, as well as pituitary, testicular, mammary, ovarian, pancreatic and thyroid tumors. The Calorie Control Council, a front group for the aspartame industry, wrote The Miami Herald which published the letter pushing aspartame on pregnant women and phenylketonurics, who are specifically prohibited from aspartame.
Neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock responded to this propaganda: “Fully a third of all babies born to PKU carrier mothers consuming aspartame foods and drinks risk varying degrees of brain damage. It is also known that the amount of toxic phenylalanine reaching the baby is twice as high as that in the mother’s blood because the placenta concentrates the toxin. In addition, numerous metabolic breakdown products of aspartame are known to damage the developing infant’s brain, including methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, diketopiperizine and phenylacetate. Aspartame has been shown by several studies to damage DNA, which can lead to cancer and degenerative brain disorders later in life. The risk of increased brain tumors in such a child would be enormous. Similar mechanisms of damage would be expected in those with liver disease. Studies on aspartame safety have shown that the product increases tumors throughout numerous organs, especially the brain. It was shown that brain tumor incidence increased over 47 times in animals exposed to aspartame.
“With the public concern over childhood obesity and diabetes, few are being told of the overwhelming evidence that early exposure to excitotoxins (as found in aspartame) consistently produce gross obesity and insulin resistant diabetes, just as we are seeing in our youth. The promoters of aspartame use have been lying from the beginning and continue to use their money and political clout to cover up the real and present dangers of this toxic product.”
Have there been studies on young children and aspartame? After 25 years of knowing how deadly aspartame is, nobody would ask children to sign up for a study on sweet arsenic. But a study was accidentally done by Dr. Miguel Baret Daniel in the Dominican Republic. Working with a pediatrician they decided to remove milk from the diet of 360 children because it can precipitate diabetes. Instead he provided juice laced with aspartame. The pediatrician noticed that most of the children were having what he called a kind of “brain allergy” showing abnormal restlessness, lack of concentration, irritability and depression. Dr. Baret then removed the aspartame and within 4 days all the 360 children went back to normal .
Why was aspartame approved by the FDA? For 16 years FDA not only refused to approve it, but asked to have G. D. Searle indicted under Title 18, Section 1001 for “their willful and knowing failure to make reports to the FDA required by the Act 21 USC 355 and for concealing material facts and making false statements in reports of animal studies conducted to establish the safety of aspartame.”
Both U.S. Prosecutors hired on with the defense team and the statute of limitations expired. But Don Rumsfeld, who was CEO of G D Searle, said he would call in his markers and get aspartame approved even though the FDA said no. He was on President Reagan’s transition team. The incredible story of how he accomplished this is told by Washington, D.C. attorney, James Turner in the documentary on aspartame called “Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World.” You can get a copy from www.docworkers.com but here is a clip where you can see and hear Attorney Turner tell one of the most incredible stories of political clout in getting a deadly chemical, a neurotoxic drug marketed for human consumption.
See the clip on Rumsfeld & aspartame at http://www.soundandfury.tv/pages/Rumsfeld2.htmlhttp://www.soundandfury.tv/pages/Rumsfeld2.html
We are taking case histories of aspartame brain tumors for litigation in New York, New Jersey, Madison County, Illinois and Mississippi. Does any parent want their children consuming a brain tumor agent?
Psychiatrist Ralph Walton, M.D., in a paper said: “The neurochemical impact of aspartame on the brain is fairly complicated. Not only does it decrease the availability of the building block for serotonin (L-tryptophan), but one of the two amino acids that comprise aspartame, phenylalanine, is a precursor for another very important neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Papers which I published in 1986 and 1993 discuss what I believe is the clinical impact (accentuating depressive illness) of altering the balance between these 2 neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and serotonin).
“There is evidence that the therapeutic effect of antidepressants can be blocked by parachlorophenylalanine - a form of phenylalanine- one of the major constituents of aspartame. Administration of this substance has also been associated with aggression and bingeing.
Dr. Walton continues by discussing the association of aspartame use and weight gain: “Food-seeking behavior and satiety are driven by an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Stimulation of the medial hypothalamus in a laboratory rat leads to eating. Stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus leads to satiety and cessation of eating. Placing a lesion in the lateral hypothalamus produces an obese rat. The lateral hypothalamus is driven by serotonin. There are many papers in the current literature demonstrating that antidepressants which increase serotonin (but not antidepressants which act on other neurotransmitters) are useful in treating binge eating disorders. I believe that consuming large amounts of aspartame decreases the availability of serotonin and is thus analogous to placing a lesion in the lateral hypothalamus. Although much of this work is recent, clinical suggestions that aspartame can lead to a paradoxical increased appetite date back to Blunder’s work of 1986.
An evolving view in modern psychiatry is that although depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, impulse control disorders and eating disorders have historically been viewed as separate entities, in fact they should be viewed as a continuum of disorders all involving some degree of dysregulation of serotonin. I believe that at this time there is overwhelming evidence that aspartame contributes to this dysregulation.
For the entire report go to: http://www.dorway.com/walton2.txthttp://www.dorway.com/walton2.txt and read his research on scientific peer reviewed studies and funding which was discussed on 60 Minutes when Dr. John Olney made world news on the aspartame brain tumor association in l996 (http://www.dorway.com/peerrev.htmlhttp://www.dorway.com/peerrev.html ) Schools should have Doctors H. J. Roberts and Russell Blaylock’s books which explain the dangers aspartame presents to the brains of our children, and show the documentary Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World - Once this knowledge is known no school with a conscience would allow anything with aspartame.
There is an epidemic of obesity in America, and we’ve known that diet pop with aspartame and in other products has caused it. And now it has been shown by a new study and 7 to 8 years of data by Sharon P. Fowler, MPH and colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio: (Diet Soda Drinkers Gain Weight at http://aolsvc.health.webmd.aol.com/content/article/107/108476.htmhttp://aolsvc.health.webmd.aol.com/content/article/107/108476.htm
In this Fowler says it shows that “Something linked to diet soda drinking is also linked to obesity.” How true! That product is aspartame (NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful/Canderel, E951).
An earlier study found weight gain among 78,694 women using artificial sweeteners: Stellman SD, Garfinkel L. Artificial Sweetener Use and One-Year Weight Change Among Women. Prev Med l985; 15: 195 - 202.
Another toxin, Splenda, is a chlorcarbon: The Lethal Science of Splenda (http://www.wnho.net/splenda_chlorocarbon.htmhttp://www.wnho.net/splenda_chlorocarbon.htm)
Stevia, found in health food stores, helps metabolize sugar and is ideal for diabetics. It’s a natural herb, has been used for centuries.
Children should be warned about gum because Wrigley’s now puts aspartame in their products. It is particularly dangerous because like nitroglycerin, goes through saliva straight to the brain. Several have had grand mal seizures on aspartame-laced gum. Dr. Roberts has an excellent report on www.wnho.net
Listerine Strips also have aspartame and there are many reports of seizures from them.
Mother, teacher describes daughter’s aspartame symptoms and recovery
Objective science proves aspartame consumption is not safe. Subjective “science” proves that aspartame consumption is safe. If symptoms develop after one begins consuming products containing aspartame—and reverse only after aspartame consumption has been discontinued—then what more proof does one need to determine whether or not aspartame is safe to consume?
By Barbara Metzler
After years of experience as a mother and a teacher, I truly believe that all schools should be deeply concerned about their students’ consumption of aspartame, an artificial sweetener unfortunately found in a multitude of products.
Aspartame is found in many brands of diet soda and other diet drinks, gum, candy, flavored fizzy water and many diabetic foods. It is even in health drinks, yogurt, gelatins, puddings, wine coolers, cereals, breath strips and mints; some medicines and chewable children’s vitamins also contain aspartame.
Most students realize that illegal drugs and smoking are bad for them, but many don’t know anything about the hazards of aspartame. With all the media attention on obesity these days, students will start using even more “diet” products.
Obviously, obesity is a serious problem! However, turning to artificial sweeteners in an attempt to lose weight or prevent weight gain is not the answer. In fact, artificial sweeteners have been proven to contribute to weight gain. And, artificial sweeteners can definitely harm the health of students in many ways.
Some people react quickly to aspartame consumption and others don’t realize they have a problem for years. Other people recognize problems, but they have no idea that aspartame is the cause.
It is important for schools to learn about the dangers of aspartame to protect the students. My own daughter’s life was nearly destroyed by diet soda 18 years ago. She was a truly bright student whose college tuition was entirely funded by scholarships. She even won a Telluride Association Scholarship in competition with more than one million students from the entire United States. Aspartame caused in her an obvious intellectual deterioration.
After drinking only one can a day for a year, my daughter started having epileptic-type seizures, severe depression, problems with cognitive functioning and she began to lose her vision in both eyes. She was studying for her master’s degree and she herself realized that she was experiencing bizarre symptoms that were quite alarming.
Aspartame gives me immediate migraines, so that is why I suspected aspartame was harming my daughter. We live in New Jersey, but to follow up, we took her to Boston for special studies on her brain and the doctors confirmed that it was the NutraSweet (aspartame) that had made her so sick.
She finally stopped drinking sodas containing aspartame and she experienced a complete recovery. My daughter is now doing very well in her intellectually-demanding professional capacity as a computer programmer and financial analyst.
The clinical neuropsychologist who examined and tested my daughter in Boston luckily knew about aspartame and already had some preliminary evidence, from tests he had done, that the use of aspartame over a period of time might affect intellectual functioning in normal users. He said, “We are wondering whether, in fact, this substance may be capable of having a subtle effect on cognitive functioning that people may not necessarily be aware of. Think of the implications, for example, on an average college student who starts consuming a liter of this stuff during examination period and how it may, in fact, be interfering with his concentration and attention skills.”
He said, “This kind of neuropsychological cognitive examination has never been used to investigate the effects of new drugs of any kind. Now we have food additives that are more like drugs than foods being introduced into the dietary chain but have direct effects on the brain’s neurotransmitter system. But because the chemical industry is 20 years ahead of the regulators, thus far no one has attempted to apply more sophisticated methods of testing brain functions to these problems.”
My daughter saw many physicians when she first became ill. She first went to a neurologist who decided that she had temporal lobe epilepsy and treated her for it—without success - because she didn’t have temporal lobe epilepsy. She had to see an opthalmologist because she was losing her vision. She saw a second neurologist. She even went to a psychologist up in Boston. What an awful waste of time and money—from something as avoidable as diet soda.
Why did it take so long to find the cause of my daughter’s deteriorating brain function? Simple: Most physicians and their patients are clueless when it comes to connecting the myriad of bizarre symptoms of aspartame poisoning with the consumption of what is supposedly a safe, government-approved substance. Since the FDA says aspartame is “safe,” doctors don’t notice aspartame-induced “side-effects” when they are staring them in the eye.
Please understand that aspartame is addictive. Aspartame liberates free methyl alcohol which is not only illegal, but causes chronic methanol poisoning. This affects the dopamine system of the brain and causes the addiction. Methanol is classified as a narcotic.
Nearly one in 10 American teenagers (approximately 2.2 million) experienced major depression last year, according to government statistics released recently that also showed that depressed youths were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol or abuse drugs. Aspartame greatly lowers serotonin levels in the brain. Decreased brain serotonin has been associated with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal attempts, hostility and psychopathic states, as well as hallucinations and insomnia. I can assure you that the epidemic numbers of depression among teenagers is linked to the huge amounts of diet sodas today’s teens are drinking.
New rules ban soda and junk food
from Illinois schools
Mission Possible Director Betty Martini wrote a letter to the Alabama Board of Education urging the state to ban the sale of junk food to children attending public schools. Though Alabama has yet to implement a junk food ban, Mission Possible member Lane Shore presented Martini’s letter to the Illinois State Board of Education, which adopted a schedule of junk food restrictions last March. The restrictions, developed per amendments to the National School Lunch Program, will be in effect beginning with the 2006-7 school year. All schools participating in the program have an obligation to develop their own child wellness policy.
From Mission Possible
Elementary and middle schools in Illinois are to be banned from selling junk food and soda in a move designed to improve children’s health and mental abilities through good nutrition.
In March, 2006, The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the new junk food rules, which are due to come into effect in the 2006-2007 school year.
The new regulation will effectively replace existing rules that currently prohibit the sale of junk food in elementary schools during breakfast and lunch. The ban is now due to be extended to the entire school day in an effort to prevent students from snacking between meal times.
The new rules will also change the definition of junk food “to focus on what’s most important”—the food’s nutritional content, said the ISBE. This spells bad news for the future of foods with low or little nutritional value, such as candy, soda, pizza and chips.
“The State Board is defining junk food in a way that makes sense and ensures the health of children. These rules will help students have a healthier diet and perform better in school,” said ISBE chairman Jesse Ruiz.
Lane Shore of Mission Possible Illinois, who was instrumental in achieving the junk food ban said the governor wants all junk food out of schools and has opened an inquiry into artificial sweeteners—aspartame in particular.
The State Board has the authority to implement the ban under the National School Lunch Program, a voluntary program, which provides funding to schools that implement certain nutritional guidelines.
Under terms of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, by July 1, 2006 every school that participates in the school lunch or school breakfast program—the large majority of U.S. schools—must have a local wellness policy in place.
The policy, designed to address the problem of childhood obesity, requires that schools set nutrition standards for all foods sold in school, including in vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores.
Although the wellness policy will not be federally regulated and is likely to differ from school to school, it will contribute to addressing a loophole that allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set cafeteria standards but forbids it from setting standards for foods sold elsewhere on campus.
And in general, there are few school nutrition policies related to “competitive foods”—or snack and soda products sold in schools, says a recent study published in the February, 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Illinois authorities are not the first to implement restrictions on the sale of junk food in schools in response to concerns over the growing incidence of childhood obesity.
With 16 percent of the nation’s children currently classed as obese, another worrying fact is that Type II Diabetes, which used to be known as “adult onset diabetes,” is now increasingly being diagnosed in kids, adding to the cardiovascular risk profile of children.
Elementary schools in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia have already banned the sale of junk food in schools until at least after lunch. Other states have gone even further. Hawaii bans junk food in all schools all day; Florida bans the sale of junk food in elementary schools all day and in secondary schools until after lunch.
The new measures implemented in Illinois are designed to “reduce the temptation for kids to replace nutritious meals at school” with junk food, according to Governor Rod Blagojevich. “Good nutrition helps children attend school more regularly, behave better when they’re in school and score better on tests. But despite the obvious reasons to eat healthy, for children, the temptation to eat junk food can just be too great,” he said.
Indeed, other moves are also being made to get unhealthy products out of schools.
USDA standards overhaul
Senator Tom Harkin recently called for a radical overhaul of USDA food standards in order to drag them into line with current thinking on obesity and nutrition.
“We need a more active federal government in setting guidance for public schools,” he had said in September at the Healthy Schools Summit 2005 in Washington D.C. The summit, which was attended by government, business and non-profit groups, involved two days of discussion on how to improve the health of children.
“Currently, under 30 year-old USDA standards, it’s just fine for schools to sell ice cream, Oreos, Snickers candy bars, donuts, and all kinds of other junk foods. Obviously, it’s time to update USDA standards based on all that we have learned about nutrition and obesity over the last three decades,” he added.
Aspartame Makes You Fatter
Some people claim they like the taste of aspartame better than sugar or other sweeteners. In almost all cases, however, people consume aspartame-containing products on the promise that their non-caloric properties will prevent them from getting fat. The following position statement from Sandra Cabot, MD, of Mission Possible, Australia, describes why the primary justification for aspartame being available to weight-conscious consumers, like claims of its being safe, is not true.
By Sandra Cabot, MD
I have been a medical doctor for over 25 years and have clinical and research interests in the liver and metabolism. I have authored several best selling health books including the “Liver Cleansing Diet,” “The Body Shaping Diet,” “Don’t Let Your Hormones Ruin Your Life,” “Women’s Health,” “Menopause and Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy” and I lecture internationally on these subjects. I have been consulted by thousands of patients with weight problems, hormonal imbalances, fatty liver, sluggish metabolism and chronic ill health. I have been an advocate and practitioner of nutritional methods of healing for 30 years. I regularly appear on national television and broadcast on many radio stations to educate people about the importance of a healthy liver in achieving good health and weight control.
In the interests of public health I am making a position statement concerning the use of the artificial sweetener called aspartame and sold most commonly under the brand names “NutraSweet” and “Equal.”
Why do millions use it?
One must ask, “Why do millions of people ingest a toxic chemical like aspartame everyday?”
It is because people have been brainwashed into thinking aspartame will keep their weight down and is good for health. The belief is inconsistent with credible science and shows me that we have lost touch with our own natural senses and instincts.
After having been consulted by thousands of overweight people suffering with problems concerning the liver and/or metabolism, I can assure you that aspartame will not help you in any way. Indeed, it will help you to gain unwanted weight.
How it causes weight gain
It has been my experience that people who use aspartame to lose weight are more likely to gain weight instead. There are logical reasons to explain the fattening and bloating effects common with aspartame consumption.
When you ingest the toxic chemical aspartame it is absorbed from the intestines and passes immediately to the liver where it is taken inside the liver via the liver filter. The liver then breaks down (metabolizes) aspartame to its toxic components—phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. This process requires a lot of energy from the liver making less energy available for fat burning and metabolism, which will result in fat storing and elevated blood sugar levels. Excess fat may build up inside the liver cells causing “fatty liver” and when this starts to occur it is extremely difficult to lose weight. In my vast experience any time that you overload the liver you will increase the tendency to gain weight easily.
Aspartame also causes weight gain by other mechanisms.
• It causes unstable blood sugar levels, which increases the appetite and causes cravings for sweets/sugar. Thus it is particularly toxic for those with diabetes or epilepsy.
• It causes fluid retention giving the body a puffy and bloated appearance. This makes people look fatter than they are and increases cellulite.
Science supports field experience
Also with regard to obesity and aspartame, the Trocho Study in Barcelona (l998) showed that the formaldehyde converted from the free methyl alcohol accumulates in the cells and damages DNA with most toxicity in the liver but substantial toxicity in the adipose tissue (fat cells).
Further a recent epidemiological study by Sharon Fowler at the University of Texas in 2005 linked diet drinks with obesity.
In the Congressional Record, Senate, S - 5511, May 7, l985, and part of the protest of the National Soft Drink Assn, now American Beverage, is this Statement: “Aspartame has been demonstrated to inhibit the carbohydrate-induced synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin (Wurtman affidavit). Serotonin blunts the sensation of craving carbohydrates and this is part of the body’s feedback system that helps limit consumption of carbohydrate to appropriate levels. Its inhibition by aspartame could lead to the anomalous result of a diet product causing increased consumption of carbohydrates.”
So as far as product liability is concerned, you have companies selling an excitoneurotoxic carcinogenic drug to the population as a sugarfree diet product knowing full well this government-approved artificial sweetener is actually causing the obesity it’s marketeers claim to be preventing. They also know that aspartame is addictive and that the methanol component is classified as a narcotic. Aspartame liberates free methyl alcohol causing chronic methanol poisoning. This affects the dopamine system of the brain causing the addiction.
Dr. Cabot’s “position” regarding aspartame, as stated here, is an overview supported by 30 years of experience and research. To discover more about the liver, visit her website at www.liverdoctor.com. To learn more about natural sugars that are better for the liver and weight control, read Dr. Cabot’s books “The Liver Cleansing Diet” and “Boost Your Energy.” Dr. Cabot’s books can be ordered from Ten Speed Press through your local book store, or by calling 1-888-75-Liver.
Science, experience proves chemcial food additives impair learning; wholesome food enhances learning
By the Feingold Association
The children in elementary and high schools today are the future of our country. We would never knowingly do something to harm their health or to make it difficult for them to take their proper places in society to sustain our country through the next generation.
Perhaps the word “knowingly” is the problem – for as long as we can close our eyes and not know it, we don’t have to deal with it. However, there is a serious problem in our communities across the country. In spite of spending more money than ever before on education, our children are not getting educated. They are increasingly presenting with learning problems, behavior problems, attention deficits, impulse control, etc. They are increasingly diagnosed with attention deficit disorders, autism, and asthma. Tourette Syndrome – which only 25 years ago could not even be diagnosed by most psychiatrists and neurologists because they had never seen a case – is now recognized by every pediatrician. To top it off, childhood obesity and diabetes – matched by other eating disorders of various kinds – are overwhelming our ability to deal with them.
While it is recognized that obesity and diabetes type 2 are related to eating patterns, the neurological disorders are usually considered genetic. I want to make it very clear, however, that it is impossible to have an epidemic of a genetic disorder. This generation’s children are not mutants – the genes were always there.
The environment has changed. The food supply has changed and now includes an ever-increasing number of additives and synthetic chemicals – most of which have been shown by research to increase weight1,2,3,4 (MSG, aspartame, food dyes, BHT) as well as to increase damage to DNA and worsen attention span and behavior.5,6, 7,8 See some of the research at www.diet-studies.com
What about the studies that showed diet has no effect?
In 1973, the American Medical Association mandated that research should be done on the new epidemic of “hyperkinesis” and its possible connection with food additives, as proposed by Dr. Ben F. Feingold. The “Nutrition Foundation” (an organization composed of Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, and various additive manufacturers and distributors9) agreed to fund such studies. They were certainly a questionable source of unbiased research.
Early studies, therefore, used unrealistically small amounts of coloring and most ignored the thousands of flavoring chemicals and the petroleum-based preservatives altogether –nevertheless when all studies are seen together, the results are clear. Whether the study used a Feingold-type diet or an oligoantigenic (few foods) diet, about 70% to 80% of children improved. When these improved children were then challenged by some amount of food coloring, how many reacted varied directly with the amount of coloring used. See Graph #1 below.
The most astonishing part of all this research is that in the studies at the left side of the graph above, in which only a few children reacted to the coloring – in other words, they stayed well – it was reported that the diet didn’t work, when in reality the diet continued working so well that the small amount of coloring offered could not un-do it. It was the challenge that wasn’t working!!
You may have been told that “studies show” that only a few percent of children react to colorings, and that only the youngest are affected. Look again at the left side of Graph #1: If you used 1 mg or so of cocaine, you might be able to prove it is safe, too, using their methods. And of course only the youngest would react to such a challenge; it is like trying to prove that aspirin is effective medicine, by using only baby aspirin. You will “prove” that aspirin only works for babies, and that it does nothing for adults.
So what do studies really show?
The following list of typical studies show the percentages of children whose behavior improved when given a diet eliminating artificial food colorings, flavorings, and preservatives (Some of these diets also eliminated salicylates and/or allergy-prone foods, some did not):
What about asthma?
Asthma is an autoimmune disorder, also at epidemic dimensions and increasing. When considering triggers and treatments, be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs in their journal, Pediatrics (1985) listed the following colorings as bronchoconstrictors:10
FD&C Red #2 FD&C Yellow #5
FD&C Red #3 FD&C Yellow #6
FD&C Red #4 FD&C Blue #1
While a bronchoconstrictor may or may not directly cause an asthma attack, it certainly prepares the child for an attack to be more easily triggered by the next allergen that happens by. Would it not be reasonable to avoid these colorings?
What about the preservatives?
BHA and BHT are listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in the U.S. Government’s Annual Report on Carcinogens. Some studies4 have also shown BHA and BHT to increase body weight and cause some neurobehavioral problems. Stokes (1974) reported that “BHA-treated offspring showed increased exploration, decreased sleeping, decreased self-grooming, slower learning, and a decreased orientation reflex. BHT-treated offspring showed decreased sleeping, increased social and isolation-induced aggression, and a severe deficit in learning." 5
As for TBHQ – now used pervasively in oils by all fast food restaurants – it is a metabolite of BHA, and according to Schilderman (1993) it “appeared to be a strong inducer of oxidative DNA damage.”11 Not a nice chemical to give our babies, is it?
MSG and aspartame?
Again, MSG and aspartame (Nutrasweet) are both known for years as “excitotoxins.” MSG has been shown to increase appetite (and weight), and one of the side effects of aspartame is weight gain. Both have been shown to cause migraine12,13 in sensitive people. Make a child sick every day and how well will he do academically?
What can you do?
Do what these schools have done:
Raising Test Scores: Many schools have made simple changes that have yielded dramatic results in academic achievement.
* In 1979 students in Greater New York City’s 803 public schools scored in the 39th percentile on the California Achievement Test. By 1983 they had gained over 15 points and scored in the 55th percentile. A graph and discussion are attached. 14
* When Al Bullock accepted the job of principal for the Gordon Middle School (in a bad section of Philadelphia) the school’s test scores were at rock bottom. By the end of the year the school ranked among the top ten percent in the state. The US Department of Education named Gordon a Blue Ribbon School – one of the best 200 secondary schools in the country.15
* The Appleton, Wisconsin Alternative High School was not only dealing with very low test scores, the discipline problems in the small school required a full time policeman on the staff. Today the students are learning and achieving, and discipline is no longer a problem.16
Changing the cafeteria can change the classroom
The change all of these schools have in common is that they removed the chemical stew they had been feeding the children and replaced it with real food. The changes were not difficult, nor were they expensive.
Some synthetic food additives have been shown to interfere with the brain’s ability to function.
Swanson study 17 – Children were given a blend of food dyes and then were tested. The researchers reported, “The performance of the hyperactive children on paired-associate learning tests on the day they received the dye blend was impaired relative to their performance after they received the placebo…”
Liverpool study 18 – Researchers at the University of Liverpool exposed nerve cells from mice to combinations of widely-used additives and measured the resulting growth of the cells. The additives studied were: blue dye, yellow dye, MSG, aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal). While each additive caused damage to the nerve cells, the combination of two additives increased the damage four-fold and seven-fold.
The additives not only stopped the growth of the nerve cells, they also interfered with the ability of the nerves to send and receive signals. The researchers expressed concern about how these additive combinations may affect a child’s brain.
See many other studies in the peer review literature at www.diet-studies.com
For the past 30 years the Feingold Diet has played an essential part in successfully helping students to improve their academic achievement. Here are the stories of some of these children:
Many schools today serve foodless foods
In recent years school foods have been further degraded by the addition of even more unhealthy additives and processing techniques, including excessive use of high fructose corn syrup, MSG, soy extenders and irradiation. The ingredients for a cheese quesadilla served by some schools would take an entire page to list.
Adding back missing nutrients
New studies have shown that in addition to serving healthier food, academic performance can be dramatically improved by the addition of essential fatty acids (EFAs), particular the omega-3 oils. These “good fats” have been removed from our foods through modern processing methods.
Researchers at Oxford University have shown that the addition of supplements containing omega-3 EFAs brought dramatic improvements. Children taking the EFAs made 10 months progress in reading skills in just 3 months.24
One company has found a way to incorporate EFAs into a delicious soft serve ice cream; they provide it for children in inner city schools.
Better food for better performance
Changing school food does not need to be difficult or expensive; in fact, some schools have found they can provide better food for less than they had been spending on the inferior lunches.
As school administrators, you must be on the side of the children, and do what needs to be done – because if you don’t, who will?
If our next generation looks like the red line below, how will we sleep at night?
The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools, Schoenthaler SJ, Doraz WE, Wakefield JA, Int J Biosocial Res., 1986, 8(2); 185-195.
" The introduction of a diet policy which lowered sucrose, synthetic food color/flavors, and two preservatives (BHA and BHT) over 4 years in 803 public schools was followed by a 15.7% increase in mean academic percentile ranking above the rest of the nation's schools who used the same standardized tests. Prior to the 15.7% gain, the standard deviation of the annual change in nation percentile rating had been less than 1%. Each school's academic performance ranking was negatively correlated with the percent of children who ate school food prior to the diet policy changes. however, after the policy transitions, the percent of students who ate school lunches and breakfasts within each school became positively correlated with that school's rate of gain (r = .28, p < .0001)."
National Rankings of 803 New York City
Public Schools Before and After Diet Changes
Percentile Rankings based on CAT Scores
Excerpt from study, describing the above chart:
"Before the diet change, very little change occurred in mean academic percentile rank for the 803 schools. The average fell just less than 1% per year . . . The only year with a gain was 1977-78 and that was limited to 1.7%. The mean national performance rankings of the 803 public schools stood at 39.2% in the spring of 1979.
The first major diet policy revisions restricted sucrose levels to 11% in all foods during the fall of 1979. Two synthetic food colors were also eliminated. In the spring of 1980, mean national percentile rank rose to 47.3% - an 8.1% increase (s.d.=.20). During the 1981 academic year, the remaining foods containing synthetic colors and all foods with synthetic flavors were eliminated. Rank increased 3.8% to 51.2% (s.d.=.10)
During 1982, no further revisions were made. Mean national percentile rank declined slightly to 50.8% (s.d.=.01). However, when foods containing BHT and BHA were eliminated during the fourth year, rank increased to 54.9 -- a 3.7% increase (s.d.=.20)."
Aspartame and MSG are excitotoxins
There is no question that aspartame is toxic. However, individuals who are concerned about the toxicity of aspartame and its use in our food supply should also be concerned about food additives that contain MSG.
By Jack Samuels
Studies published in the 1970s demonstrated that more than 25% of the population experienced adverse reactions from MSG at the levels then used in processed food. 1 ,2 The use of MSG in processed foods has increased dramatically since the 1970s, so we can expect the percentage of people experiencing adverse reactions to MSG is likely much greater than 25%.
Neuroscientists, in animal studies, have determined that glutamic acid and aspartic acid (which makes up approximately 40% of aspartame) load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion. 3 Moreover, people who react adversely to MSG typically react similarly to aspartame and; people who are sensitive to aspartame typically react similarly to MSG, providing that they ingest amounts that exceed their tolerances for these substances.
Animal studies suggest that if one were to eat a food that contains both free glutamic acid and free aspartic acid, one would be affected by the combined amount of these two free amino acids.
MSG-sensitive people react to any free glutamic acid that has been freed from protein through a manufacturing process or through fermentation that exceeds their tolerance levels. We refer to all such glutamic acid as “processed free glutamic acid (MSG).” Unprocessed/unadulterated/unfermented protein does not cause adverse reactions. Unprocessed/unadulterated/unfermented protein, even though it contains glutamic acid, does not contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). The glutamic acid in unprocessed/unadulterated/unfermented protein is L-glutamic acid only, and it does not have contaminants associated with it. All processed free glutamic acid (MSG) contains L-glutamic acid, but it is always accompanied by contaminants. (See www.truthinlabeling.org/manufac.html.)
The food industry has actually proven that people react similarly to MSG and aspartame. Ajinomoto Company, Inc. the world’s largest producer of the food ingredient “monosodium glutamate,” long time producer of amino acids used in aspartame and current producer of aspartame, has been involved with a number of human studies over the years intended to convince people that “monosodium glutamate” is safe for human consumption. Most, if not all, of these studies were conducted through Ajinomoto’s International Glutamate Technical Committee. In most cases, alleged MSG-sensitive individuals were given test materials that contained “monosodium glutamate” and were also given alleged placebos that, though supposed to be non-reactive, contained aspartame.
In those studies, a number of subjects suffered adverse reactions to both the test material (which contained processed free glutamic acid in the flavor enhancer “monosodium glutamate”) and the placebos, which contained processed free glutamic acid (in various hydrolyzed protein products) and/or contained aspartic acid (in aspartame).4
When subjects reacted to both the test material and the placebo, the industry-sponsored researchers would claim that such results proved that people were imagining reactions from “monosodium glutamate” since they reacted similarly to both the test material and the placebo. 5 , 6 However, we now know that the alleged placebo was not a true placebo at all. Instead of being an inert substance, the alleged placebo contained either neurotoxic processed free glutamic acid (MSG) or its structural analog, neurotoxic aspartic acid, found in aspartame.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that food ingredients be identified by their “common or usual names.” “Monosodium glutamate” is the common or usual name a food ingredient that is approximately 78% processed free glutamic acid, about 12% sodium (salt), up to 1% contaminants and the balance is moisture.
There are over 40 food ingredients other than “monosodium glutamate” that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG), but have names that provide consumers with no clue of its presence. MSG-sensitive people experience adverse reactions from all processed free glutamic acid (MSG), providing that they ingest amounts that exceed their individual tolerances for MSG. (See www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.html.)
The FDA, in reliance on Section 403(a)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, considers a processed food to be mislabeled if the label states “No MSG” or “No MSG added” when the product contains “free glutamates” (free glutamic acid). 7 This fact is clearly stated in the FDA Backgrounder referred to above. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), responsible for the labeling of products that contain more than 3% meat or poultry, improperly allows the food industry to use “NO MSG” or “No MSG added” designations on labels of processed foods that contain ingredients with free glutamic acid, as long as the food ingredient “monosodium glutamate” was not used.
Glutamic acid and aspartic acid are both nonessential amino acids. If one were never to ingest these amino acids, the body would produce them from other amino acids.
Based on reports to the FDA and received by the Truth in Labeling Campaign, the most common reaction to MSG and aspartame is migraine headache. The second most common reaction is gastric distress, including cramps, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and vomiting. Reactions vary from mild and transitory, including rash, tightness in the chest, sleepiness, and mood change, to debilitating and life threatening, including asthma, heart irregularities, and seizures. (See www.truthinlabeling.org/adversereactions.html.) Reactions are typically the same for a given individual each time that individual reacts to MSG and/or aspartame.
An individual who reacts to MSG or aspartame typically reacts each time at the same lapsed time following ingestion of these substances, providing that he or she ingests amounts of these substances that exceed his or her tolerance to them. The time lag between ingestion and a reaction varies among individuals from immediately following ingestion up to 48 hours following ingestion, but for any one person, the time lag between exposure and adverse reaction is typically the same each time the person reacts.
Often, extreme exercise just before or just following the ingestion of MSG and/or aspartame will result in a much more severe reaction than is usual for the individual. Some of us who have extensively studied the toxicity of MSG and aspartame cannot help but wonder if some of the recent deaths of athletes during practices or games may be related to ingestion of these neurotoxic substances just prior to or during a practice or game.
The Truth In Labeling Campaign has been advised by teachers that children appear to be more difficult to manage following lunch, and they report that some complain of stomach aches or headaches. School lunch programs are typically loaded with processed free glutamic acid (MSG) and lunches from home often include food and/or snacks that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG).
In 1997, a five-year study was conducted in the Appleton Area School District in which “pure” foods were used in the schools. Although no mention of MSG or aspartame was made in the study, every educator should read about this study (see Martini letter page 8).
In earlier years, a study was conducted in New York in which efforts were made to remove MSG from school food services. The study showed how behavior problems in the schools went down and grades improved during the study period (see page 19).
MSG has been implicated in obesity, 8 ,9 diabetes, 9 and neurodegenerative diseases. 10
Indeed, both aspartic acid found in aspartame or elsewhere and MSG should be clearly labeled when used; and neither aspartame nor MSG should be allowed in schools.
 Reif-Lehrer, L. A questionnaire study of the prevalence of Chinese restaurant syndrome. Fed Proc 36: 1617-1623, April, 977.
2 Kenney, R. A. and Tidball , C.S. Human susceptibility to oral monosodium L-glutamate. Am J Clin Nutr. 25: 140-146, 1972.
3 Olney, John W. Excitotoxic food additives – revelance of animal studies to human safety. Neurobehav Toxicol Teratol .6(6): 455-62 1984, Nov-Dec. Review.
4 Ebert, A. G. Letter to Sue Ann Anderson, R.D., Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist, FASEB. March 22, 1991. (Copy in Dockets Branch, FDA).
5 Tarasoff L and Kelly M.F. Monosodium L-glutamate: a double-blind study and review. Food Chem Toxicol. (12):1019-35, Dec. 31, 1993. Review.
6 Geha R.S., Beiser A., Ren C., Patterson R., Greenberger P.A., Grammer L.C., Ditto A.M., Harris K.E., Shaughnessy M.A., Yarnold P.R., Corren J., Saxon A. Multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multiple-challenge evaluation of reported reactions to monosodium glutamate. J Allergy Clin ImmunolNov; 106 (5):973-80, Nov, 2000
7 FDA Backgrounder, August 31, 1995.
9 Iwase M., Yamamoto M., Iino, K., Ichikawa K., Shinohara N., Yoshinari M., Fujishima M Obesity induced by neonatal monosodium glutamate treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats: an animal model of multiple risk factors. Hypertens Res, 21(1): 1-6, March, 1998.
10 Blaylock, Russell L. Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, 1996.
By John W. Olney, MD
Striking degenerative changes in the infant mouse retina after subcutaneous treatment with monosodium glutamate (MSG) were reported by Lucas and Newhouse in l957(1). Other studies (2-4) established that the process of retinal degeneration induced by MSG treatment is a remarkably acute and irreversible form of neuronal pathology. Recently it was found that a similar process of acute neuronal necrosis occurs in several regions of the infant mouse brain after subcutaneous treatment with MSG, and that animals treated with high doses in infancy tend to manifest obesity and neuroendocrine disturbances as adults (7,8). The arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus is an area particularly vulnerable to glutamate induced damage in infant animals of several spices (mice and rats (7), rabbits and chicks and the rhesus monkey (3) ), In mice, which have been studied more extensively for MSG induced disturbances than other species, the infant animal suffered hypothalamic damage from a relatively low subcutaneous dose (0.5 g/kg of body weight) (7).
Because of the widespread practice of weaning human infants on foods which are not only rich in natural glutamate content but may contain substantial quantities of glutamate (MSG) added for flavouring (10,11), it is important to establish whether damage to the infant central nervous system could follow from oral as well as from parenteral administration of glutamate (12). We describe here experiments which demonstrate hypothalamic damage in infant mice following relatively low oral doses of glutamate, and also report that orally administered aspartate and cysteine can induce retinal and hypothalamic damage.
Seventy-five Webster Swiss albino mice, 10 to 12 days old, were given single oral doses of a 10 per cent aqueous solution of MSG at one of 5 dose levels (0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.0 or 2.0 g/kg). Ten control animals were intubated but given no treatment, and an additional 46 were given single oral doses of other test compounds, as shown in Table 1. Accurate dosage control was ensured by use of an improvised flexible gastric tube inserted gently through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach. About 5 h after treatment, each animal was anaesthetized with chloral hydrate and killed by perfusion fixation of the central nervous system with 1.5 per cent glutaraldehyde and 1 per cent paraformaldehyde in 0.1 M cacodylate buffer. After 15 min of perfusion, the retinas and brain areas of interest were further fixed in osmium tetroxide and processed by a technique described elsewhere’ which permits alternative examination of any specimen by either light or electron microscopy. To provide a rough 3 g/kg., Aspartate and cysteine, however, were striking exceptions because each animal treated with these compounds developed both retinal and hypothalamic lesions which seemed identical to those which are usually found after treatment with MSG. The possibility that glutamate and aspartate are additive in their toxic effect was suggested by the observation that every one of eight animals treated orally was a mixture of MSG (0.5 g/kg) and sodium aspartate (0.5 g/kg) developed a degree of hypothalamic damage characteristically seen in animals treated with either agent as l g/kg (Table 1).
Curtis (13) and others have found that glutamate, aspartate and cysteine comprise a select group of amino acids (the “neuroexcitatory” amino acids) which can depolarize nerve membranes. Whether the striking ability of this select group of compounds to induce neuronal necrosis in the immature central nervous system relates to their ability to depolarize nerve membranes need further study.
Because glutamate is a naturally occurring constituent of dietary protein there has been little tendency to question its safety for human infant consumption. But, in our experiments, both glutamate and aspartate are toxic to the infant mouse at relatively low levels of oral intake and, when taken together, these common amino acids have an additive brain damaging effect. Contrary to conclusions which others have reached from studies on adult animals (12) these experiments with tube fed infant animals raise serious questions concerning the advisability of supplementing the human infant diet with MSG.
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health, U.S. Public Health Service.
John W. Olney, M.D., OI-Lan Ho Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110: Received January 5; revised April 16, l970.
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10. Gerber Products, Inc., Hearings before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the US Senate, 13A, 4170 (July l969).
11. Lowe, C. U., Science, 167,1016 (l970).
12. Blood, F. R., Oser, B. L. and White, P. L. Science 165, l028 (l969)
13. Curtis, D. R. and Crawford, J. M., Ann. Rev. Pharm., 9, 209 (l969).