Aspartame the Savage Beast
Date Added: Feb. 19, 2001
The science vs. nature debate has led many to believe that everything we eat is bad for us - and justifiably so in some cases. Popular chain letters claim that what we don't know may kill us, as does this one. Unfortunately, even anti-aspartame advocates are skeptical of this one.
Article written by Nancy Markle (1120197)
I have spent several days lecturing at the WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE on "ASPARTAME marketed as 'NutraSweet', 'Equal', and 'Spoonful"'.
In the keynote address by the EPA, they announced that there was an epidemic of multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus, and they did not understand what toxin was causing this to be rampant across the United States. I explained that I was there to lecture on exactly that subject.
When the temperature of Aspartame exceeds 86 degrees F, the wood alcohol in ASPARTAME converts to formaldehyde and then to formic acid, which in turn causes metabolic acidosis. (Formic acid is the poison found in the sting of fire ants). The methanol toxicity mimics multiple sclerosis; thus people were being diagnosed with having multiple sclerosis in error.
The multiple sclerosis is not a death sentence, where methanol toxicity is.
In the case of systemic lupus, we are finding it has become almost as rampant as multiple sclerosis, especially with Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi drinkers.
Also, with methanol toxicity, the victims usually drink three to four 12oz. cans of them per day, some even more. In the cases of systemic lupus, which is triggered by ASPARTAME, the victim usually does not know that the aspartame is the culprit. The victim continues its use aggravating the lupus to such a degree, that sometimes it becomes life threatening. When we get people off the aspartame, those with systemic lupus usually become symptomatic.
Unfortunately, we cannot reverse this disease.
[Full text omitted]
The science v. nature debate has been going on for centuries. Anti-science advocates argue that we can't possibly know all the effects chemicals and other scientifically engineered substances can have on our bodies. They point out a few horror stories and generalize that the horrors are more common than they really are. Those in the pro-science camp run carefully controlled experiments and case studies, then apply their findings to the population at large. They argue that since there are more benefits than risks, science is safe. The anti-scientists accuse them of being fanatics who are so concerned with the question "can it be done?" that they ignore the question "should it be done?" In return, pro-scientists call the anti-science camp old fashioned and uninformed.
It is this polarity of opinions that produces letters like the one above, which points to some great scientific-political conspiracy to hide the truth from the masses, though provides little, if any evidence of its claims.
While most often attributed to "Nancy Markle," the letter above actually was written in 1995 by Betty Martini, an outspoken and very visible anti-aspartame activist and founder of Mission Possible, an Atlanta, Georgia-based organization. According to the Mission Possible web site, "Martini has worked ceaselessly to spread the word that aspartame is a toxic poison unfit for human consumption ... a slow neurotoxin that is especially bad for diabetics." Her 1995 missive became a popular e-mail chain letter in early 2001. We still don't know who Nancy Markle is nor how she became associated with this chain, though it was most likely a case of False Attribution Syndrome.
The Aspartame Victims Support Group, an online community "founded at the beginning of 1999 in response to the huge number of persons responding to the information available on the Internet, primarily thanks to the famous "Nancy Markle" e-mail," had at one point embraced the popularity of this piece, even branding their Web site "NancyMarkle.com." They have since abandoned that approach (and domain name), though they still have a page on it with the following disclaimer:
"The owners of the website, The Aspartame Victims Support Group, do not endorse any statements made by Betty Martini. Niether do we discount them on the the grounds that she might have disseminated them. We are not associated with her, and we will be re-doing this website in the future to clearly reflect that. We are aware that she has certain alleged credibility problems, and we do not want our efforts to be tied to the negative publicity that she has received. In any event, there is no question in our minds that aspartame is toxic, since we are all victims of aspartame ourselves, and when we stopped using it, in almost all cases our symptoms disappeared. In any event, the issue of aspartame, in spite of the impression given by public relations firms in the hire of aspartame sellers and the like, is not in any way tied to the person of Betty Martini. Her crediblity is not what determines whether aspartame is safe or not."
Martini associates herself with "DORway to Discovery," a not-for-profit Web site created in September of 1996 and "dedicated to informing the public about the many unhealthy aspects of aspartame (a.k.a. Equal, Nutrasweet, Spoonful, Equal Measure, Benevia, Joe Sweet, Nutrataste, ???)." Further, the site's owners assert "It was created out of frustration, stemming from the inability to motivate elected officials, government officials and the media/medical system to inform the public and to effect the removal of this substance from the human food chain."
There is no doubt that Martini's intentions were sincere and noble, but many of her claims have been seriously questioned, not only by detractors, but by other anti-aspartame advocates as well.
There are literally thousands of Web sites that discuss the possible side effects of aspartame and try to link it, through mostly anecdotal evidence, to multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, brain tumors and more. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, responding to the popularity of these sites and letters like the one above, assures consumers that aspartame has been adequately tested and deemed safe:
Aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested food additives ever submitted to the FDA. All of the early testing in animals and human subjects conducted to support the safety of aspartame as well as the well-designed and conducted studies subsequently performed to assess whether aspartame might mediate a number of anecdotally reported symptoms have reinforced the appropriateness of FDA's approval and regulation of aspartame as a safe food additive.
Newer versions of the letter include a lengthy preamble that appears to be a real-life testimonial of how this letter provided a "miracle cure" that brought a loved one back from the brink of death:
This was sent to me by my cousin and I feel is of the utmost importance for our awareness...thank you, Georgeanne
In October of 2001, my sister started getting very sick, she had stomach spasms, she was having a hard time getting around, to walk was a major chore. It took everything she had just to get out of bed, she was in so much pain. By March 2002, she had undergone biopsies, and was on 24 various prescription medications. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with her. She was in so much pain, and so sick, she knew she was dying.
She put her house, bank accounts, life insurance, etc., in her oldest daughters name, and made sure her younger children were to be with her oldest daughter. She wanted her last hooray, so she planned a trip to FL (basically in a wheelchair) for March 22nd. On March 19th I called her to ask her how one of her tests went, and she said they didn't find anything on the test, but they believe she had MS. I thought, oh, my....then I recalled an article a friend of mine emailed to me...and I asked her....Do you drink Diet pop? She told me yes, as a matter of fact she was getting ready to crack one open that moment....I told her not to open it, and stop drinking the diet pop....and I emailed her the following article. She called me within 32 hours after our phone conversation and told me she stopped drinking the diet pop, and she can walk...she went up the stairs, and the muscle spasms went away. She said she didn't feel 100% but sure felt a lot better. She told me she was going to her doctors with this article and would call me back when she got home. She called me, and her doctor was amazed, he is going to call all of his MS patients to find out if they consumed artificial sweetener....In a nutshell, she was being poisoned by the aspartame in the diet soda, dying a slow death. When she got to FL March 22nd, all she had to take was one pill, and that was a pill for poisoning....she is well on her way to recovery.....and she is walking!!!!! No wheelchair!!!! This article saved her life!!!! The lifesaving article:
If it says "SUGAR FREE," on the label, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!! I have spent several days lecturing at the WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE on "ASPARTAME" marketed as 'NutraSweet', 'Equal', and 'Spoonful'
The story of this anonymous author's sister is, at best, apocryphal. There is no identifying information, and the claim that simply cutting out diet pop saved this woman's life in just days is too incredible to believe from such an anonymous and uncheckable source. It actually goes against Martini's original claim that Aspartame disease cannot be reversed.
As always, if you have questions about the releative health (or lack thereof) of the foods and other substances you ingest, your best source for answers are health professionals. If you are concerned about negative effects from aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, consult your doctor or a registered dietitian - don't rely on an outdated and questionable chain letter for your health or that of those you know and care about. Get answers and break this chain!
References: About.com, Snopes.com, FDA Statement, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation