From Aspartame to Formaldehyde to Cancer (and Beyond)


From aspartame to formaldehyde to cancerIn the annals of the American pastime known as baseball, the poetic refrain, “Tinker to Evers to Chance,” refers to the Chicago Cubs teammates who were immortalized in a poem published in 1910 by a New York Evening Mail columnist named Franklin P. Adams. The three infielders (shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance) were renown for their uncanny ability to execute double plays that helped their team win ballgames as well as two World Series Championships during the first decade of the 20th century.

A 2011 New York Times article revealed government warnings about the carcinogenic risks posed by two common substances: formaldehyde and styrene. Over the years, various researchers have cited how the human body breaks down aspartame and converts this food additive into formaldehyde and other toxins. Given the wide availability and popularity of sugar-free chewing gum and dietary beverages, is it really a surprise that cancer rates among Americans (including those under 20) are on the rise?

A few years ago, the National Cancer Institute published its “Cancer in Children and Adolescents” report that disclosed the following cancer statistics for each year from 2001 to 2007 that had been compiled under the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program:

• 32.1 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 children ages 0 to 14 years
• 138.6 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years
• 2,053.8 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 people aged 40 years or older
• About 70,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year.

A companion report entitled “Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents and Young Adults 15 to 29 Years of Age, Including SEER Incidence and Survival: 1975-2000” publicized these cancer facts:

• Cancer occurring between the ages of 15 and 30 years is 2.7 times more common than cancer occurring during the first 15 years of life.
• The incidence of cancer in this age group increased steadily during the past quarter century.
• Males in the 15-to-29-year age group have been at higher risk of developing cancer, with the risk directly proportional to age.

Perhaps you are addicted to sugar-free chewing gum or are a regular consumer of Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener in these products, is composed of three neurotoxins: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol.

Aspartic acid, or aspartate, acts very similarly to glutamate. This non-essential amino acid triggers NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in cells, which is a cellular receptor used to initiate cell death. According to a post on Global Healing Center, aspartate has been linked with serious neurological effects such as headaches, sleep disorders, and seizures.

Imagine it’s the middle of summer and you live in an area that is experiencing a heatwave and bottles of dietary soft drinks are sitting outdoors exposed to high temperatures. What happens when the weather turns hot is that the synthetically modified phenylalanine breaks down and a portion turns into methyl alcohol (aka methanol or wood alcohol).

Methanol is the smallest molecule of alcohol there is. It consists of only one carbon atom. If you want to make a really tasty vanilla extract, you would use methanol to do it. As publicized in an abstract published on the While Science Sleeps website:

A rare component of unprocessed food, methanol has increased incrementally in the human diet since the advent of commercialized canning in the 1800s. The recent dietary introduction of aspartame, an artificial sweetener 11% methanol by weight, has also greatly increased methanol consumption. Conversion to formaldehyde in organs other than the liver is the principal means by which methanol may cause disease.

Methanol can slip through the blood-brain barrier. Within human brain tissue is an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase that metabolizes and converts methyl alcohol into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly used as embalming fluid and for leather tanning because of its ability to lock cells and tissues into a set position and prevent the underlying proteins from carrying out reactions. Formaldehyde and its chemical derivative formic acid (“ant venom”) that are produced as metabolites of methanol are responsible for optic nerve damage that can result in blindness. Chronic exposure to formic acid can also lead to kidney damage.

In 2011, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published Dr. Bernadene Magnuson’s pro-aspartame commentary entitled, “Relationship Between Aspartame, Methanol and Formaldehyde Explained,” where she wrote that the amount of methanol ingested by the average diet drink consumer is negligible and does not pose a major health risk. She stated that “the known toxic effects of methanol relate not to formaldehyde, but to the build-up of formic acid in the blood.” Moreover, in her same report, she made repeated references to ‘dietary methanol’ as if it was a natural and healthy substance (remember: methanol wasn’t part of the common food supply 200 years ago) and added that:

It is important to understand that the human body is well-equipped to use small amounts of methanol produced from foods and beverages, as well as from aspartame.

A single 12-ounce container of aspartame-sweetened soda contains about 200 milligrams of aspartame. Many adults consume up to 10 milligrams of methanol daily as part of their regular diet, and some drink more than one dietary beverage each day. In a report posted on HolisticMed.com, the writer noted that the amount of methanol needed to cause acute toxicity varies widely from person-to-person (Kavet 1990). Moreover, chronic formaldehyde exposure at very low doses has been shown to cause immune system and neurological damage and changes as well as headaches, general poor health, permanent genetic damage, and a number of other serious health problems (Fujimaki 1992, John 1994, Liu 1993, Main 1983, Molhave 1986, National Research Council 1981, Shaham 1996, Srivastava 1992, Vojdani 1992, Wantke 1996).

As noted on the aforementioned While Science Sleeps report:

Although the extreme sensitivity of humans to methanol is well established, its conversion to formaldehyde in situ (“locally” or “on site“) within the vessels of the brain and elsewhere is undetectable, making methanol-placed formaldehyde a paradigm of toxicity that is as compelling in theory as it is difficult in practice to study.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

Even though aspartame manufacturers and their supporters maintain that their product is safe for human consumption, a small but growing segment of the general population disagrees and has chosen to spend their discretionary food income elsewhere. In a 2014 article posted on 247wallst.com, the reporter noted that Diet Pepsi’s market share of all carbonated soft drink sales in the U.S. has fallen to 4.5%, while market leader Diet Coke holds a 9% share. In comparison, annual sales of the legacy Pepsi and Coca-Cola sodas outperform their dietary cousins.

Are you addicted to aspartame? As outlined in a 2012 Natural News article authored by Aurora Geib, aspartame products are very addictive, as it sets up triggers in the body to crave sweeter tasting food with no nutritional value. In addition to detoxifying the body by taking organic sulfur, eliminating aspartame altogether in favor of regular exercise and a healthier diet plan is the optimal solution, although it may be an uphill struggle to kick-the-habit without adequate support from family and friends (time to start an Aspartame Anonymous group, perhaps?).

When the time comes for your body to be embalmed with formaldehyde, just leave that job to the mortician. Don’t speed up the process by embalming your body from the inside-out.

REFERENCES

Remembering ‘Tinker to Evers to Chance’
William Hageman
Chicago Tribune
July 5, 2010
http://trib.in/1CHvE7K

Government Says 2 Common Materials Pose Risk of Cancer
The New York Times
June 10, 2011
http://nyti.ms/1BjCGNr

Chronic Methanol/Formaldehyde Poisoning From Aspartame
http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/methanol.faq

Toxicology Expert Explains Why Aspartame is So Dangerous To Your Health
by Dr. Mercola
Nov 11, 2012
http://bit.ly/1wO75CT

Aspartame withdrawal and side effects explained – Here’s how to protect yourself
by Aurora Geib
Natural News
March 2, 2012
http://bit.ly/1yB6t8r

Methanol: A chemical Trojan Horse as the root of the Inscrutable U
While Science Sleeps
http://www.whilesciencesleeps.com/methanol/

Relationship Between Aspartame, Methanol and Formaldehyde Explained
Written by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D., Cantox Health Sciences Int’l, for the Aspartame Expert Work Group (2008)
http://www.andeal.org/topic.cfm?cat=4089

Oxidation of methanol, formaldehyde and formate by catalase purified from methanol-grown Hansenula polymorpha
Archives of Microbiology
31. XII. 1975, Volume 106, Issue 3, pp 221-226
http://bit.ly/1nCDDQu

Will aspartame make me go blind?
Methanol Digestion and Dangers
How Stuff Works
http://bit.ly/1yxujlu

Formic acid
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formic_acid

The Diet Soda Business Is in Freefall
Low-Cal Carbonated Drinks Sank in 2013; Overall Soda Volumes Down 3%
By Mike Esterl
The Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2014
http://on.wsj.com/1vqI2oC

Diet Pepsi Sales Plunge
By Douglas A. McIntyre
24/7 WallSt.
April 1, 2014
http://bit.ly/1sLnSso

Is Chewing Gum Bad for Your Health? 4 Reasons to Eschew the Chew
by Christina Sarich
Natural Society
Sep 26th, 2014
http://bit.ly/1uh9sPk

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One Response to “From Aspartame to Formaldehyde to Cancer (and Beyond)”

  1. Sweetener Council Says:

    The interesting thing about aspartame is that its three components (aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol) are naturally found in similar or greater quantities in common foods that are regularly consumed as part of a balanced diet. Whether these three components come from aspartame or from a naturally occurring food source they are broken down and used in the body in the same way.

    For comparison, An 8 oz glass of milk has 6 times more phenylalanine and 13 times more aspartic acid than 8 oz of aspartame sweetened beverage.
    Similarly, 8oz fruit or tomato juice has 3-5 times more methanol.

    As for the small amounts of methanol released during digestion of aspartame, this amount is less than the amount in foods that naturally contain methanol such as citrus fruits and juice. For comparison, the amount of methanol obtained from consuming aspartame-containing beverages is roughly 55mg/L while citrus juice and fruits contain up to 680mg/L. Methanol also is released from digestion of fruits and vegetables, and is produced in the body every day regardless of what we eat. The consumption of methanol, whether from aspartame or a naturally occurring food source, is present at levels too low to pose any health risk and is quickly broken down and used in the body leaving no build up or adverse effects from these low levels.
    Well-conducted research studies have consistently shown that consumption of aspartame at levels many times higher than can ever be consumed from foods and beverages is safe and can be beneficial for weight loss and blood sugar control. Hundreds of studies have been conducted that steadily show that aspartame can be safely consumed including long term toxicity studies, weight loss trials, and large population studies. In addition, all major regulatory agencies including Health Canada, FDA, and the EFSA have recognized the safety of aspartame and have approved its use.

    We hope that we have been able to provide some helpful information concerning aspartame and that you will share with your readers.

    For more information, feel free to check out these helpful links!

    European Food Safety Authority:
    http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/aspartame.htm
    Health Canada:
    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/sweeten-edulcor/aspartame-eng.php
    The Calorie Control Council:
    http://www.caloriecontrol.org/sweeteners-and-lite/sugar-substitutes/aspartame

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