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Aspartame – good or bad guy?

The other day I came across a BBC article about Coca-Cola and Pepsi changing their recipe to reduce one of its ingredients as it is classed as a carcinogen (cancer causing) which sort of sounds good but it seems it’s just so it doesn’t have to list it as a carcinogen on the label…read about it here. It also reminded me about the contraversy regarding the use of artificial sweeteners in our drinks and foods, notably Aspartame. So I visited the Coca Cola website to se what they had to say about this. After a few minutes trying to get to the right area I came across a Q & A section on artificial sweeteners where the following is stated under the heading:

Misperception: Use of low- and no-calorie sweeteners increases the risk of negative health effects

“There is no scientific evidence that foods with low- and no-calorie sweeteners increase the risk of other diseases or health concerns. There is an exception for individuals born with a rare hereditary disease called phenylketonuria (PKU), which prevents them from breaking down one of the amino acids found in aspartame. Therefore, foods and drinks that are sweetened with aspartame must include a warning statement to keep individuals with this disease from unknowingly using this sweetener.”

Which all sounds hunkey dory. However, just searching on a health newsletter I subscribe to and wholly recommend – WDDTY (What Doctors Don’t Tell You) I found the following article which highly concerned me with regards to Aspartame. To read the full article you’ll need to register (it’s free and well worth it). In this article Dr Erik Millstone (Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex) “…maintains that aspartame was accepted in the UK on the basis of animal tests which weren’t properly conducted. According to his evidence, the 15 pivotal studies leading to aspartame approval both in the US and the UK had serious flaws or demonstrated risk.” The article also highlights many studies into the safety (or lack of) of Aspartame. In another article Dr Millstone looks into the increase rates of brain cancers following the introduction of Aspartame to the market. Find the article here. In this article he also questions whether anyone apart from diabetics need artificial sweeteners as the increased use of sweeteners hasn’t seen the same decrease in sugar consumption. Furthermore, he believes that using such artificial sweeteners as a diet aid as they “…are at best ineffective and at worst counter-productive.”