(Written by NBC TV's former Network Physician and Pediatrician / Author: Lendon Smith, M.D.)

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GREED vs HEALTH Which Will Win?

by Dr. Lendon Smith, MD

I knew there was something wrong with aspartame (Aspartame, Nutrasweet /Equal), but I could not quite put my finger on it.  Yes, the ingredients are chemicals found naturally in foods, but is a little different when it is ingested as a sweetner with little or no "food" around it. I just received an eye-opener called "THE DEADLY DECEPTION," compiled by the ASPARTAME CONSUMER SAFETY NETWORK (ACSN, PO Box 780634, Dallas, TX  75378.)  Founded in 1987, it serves as a support group and clearinghouse for vital information.  One of the opening pages hit me:
"85% of all complaints registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerns aspartame's adverse reactions."
It is now reported that SEVERAL DEATHS and at least 70 different symptoms have resulted from its use.  The list includes neurological, dermatological, cardiac, respiratory  all the symptoms I have ever seen reported for food sensitivities, low blood sugar, Alzheimer's, Chronic Fatique syndrome, amalgam-filling disease and methanol poisoning.  The Searle Pharmaceutical Company has actually covered up or, at the very least, failed to report adverse reactions just so the FDA would allow this product to be used by millions worldwide.  Aspartame (L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanyl-methyl-ester) is about 200 times as sweet as sugar with virtually no calories.  It sounds ideal for those who need to have the sweet taste, but not the calories.

This compound breaks down in the system to:

1) phenylalanine (50%) which can be neurotoxic and in some susceptible people will cause seizures
2)  aspartic acid (40%) which can cause brain damage in the developing brain
3) methanol (10%) which turns into formaldehyde  embalming fluid  an obvious toxin.
They all have adverse effects, but not everyone is affected equally.  This is why the scientific community is having trouble evaluating these anecdotal reports.  But I think you can see why Searle and the FDA have minimized the adverse reactions;  there might be a loss of revenue.The symptoms easily might lead a doctor to make a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  These chemicals "change the ratio of the amino acids in the blood stream."

  The MENTAL SYMPTOMS that Aspartame/Nutrasweet can produce in a person is thought to be related to the increase in violence and suicides in our population.  Aspartame/Nutrasweet causes a blockage of the formation of serotonin in the brain. Since tryptophan has been taken off the market by the FDA, there are many people who cannot make enough serotonin from their food, and they are more suseptible to insomnia, depression, and/or PMS.  If these genetically deficient people are also swallowing Aspartame/Nutrasweet, they will more readily have headaches, insomnia, depression, hostility, anxiety, and a host of other negative symptoms.  No wonder sales of the new drug, Prozac, have skyrocketed. Aspartame/Nutrasweet is known to disturb thyroid function.  The pituitary uses serotonin as its neurotransmitter to tell the thyroid what to do.  Aspartame/Nutrasweet will inhibit the formation of that neurotransmitter.  It can do anything.  These ingredients may not actually cause mental problems but can certainly trigger them by interferring with the ratio of the various brain neurotransmitters.  It is the same with sugar, additives, alcohol, or food sensitivities.  A person may be susceptible to brain chemical alterations, but the reaction only occurs when there is stress plus the ingestion of Aspartame/Nutrasweet.

MARY NASH STODDARD, who heads up the ACSN, has been diagnosed with that devastating EMS (EosinophiliaMyalgia Syndrome) because of her severe generalized aches and an elevated eosinophil count.  When she stopped the Aspartame/Nutrasweet the disease disappeared. (And we all thought that disease was only due to the tainted tryptophan from the Japanese company.) The FDA and Searle (the Nutrasweet Co.) claim that all the symptoms reported are just anecdotal, and these people should see their doctor for a definitive diagnosis. (most of them have, and the doctor could not name the disease.)  Three out of five of the negative responders have headaches, to the point of being diagnosed as migraines.This company feels that because so many millions of doses are being taken everyday and the numbers of reactions are so few, Aspartame/Nutrasweet is very safe as a sugar substitute.  But if people are using Aspartame/Nutrasweet as a sugar substitute they are living in a fools' paradise.  Research has shown that most people who are sensitive to Aspartame/Nutrasweet will notice an increase in hunger pangs.  The blood sugar actually falls when the sweet taste in the mouth from the Aspartame/Nutrasweet send a message to the brain that some sugar is going down the gullet, and the pancreas better kick in with some extra insulin.I think that most intelligent people might notice that they do not feel good after drinking Aspartame/Nutrasweet loaded drinks and just quit the stuff.  When the symptoms disappear, we would not necessarily call Searle or the FDA.  Many people cannot drink red wine, or eat chocolate, but they do not call the companies or sue the grocer.

"The Deadly Deception" cites chapter and verse of the coverup by Searle and the FDA. Here are some highlights from the book "The Deadly Deception":

1969 - Dr. Harry Waisman fed Aspartame/Nutrasweet mixed with milk to monkeys.  One died after 300 days of Aspartame/Nutrasweet and five others had grand mal seizures.  Searle deleted this negative study when the company submitted safety evidence to the FDA.

1970 - The FDA banned cyclamate during the time that the safety of saccharin was being questioned.  The time seemed ripe for Aspartame/Nutrasweet.

1971 - Dr. John Olney, a research psychiatrist, told Searle that aspartic acid caused "holes in the brains of mice."

1974 - Searle people said these studies raised "no health problems." Searle told the FDA about these findings after approval was granted.

1975 - Many of the test animals fed Aspartame/Nutrasweet developed large TUMORS.  These were NOT reported to the FDA.

1977 -  Despite the many complaints about Aspartame/Nutrasweet, William Conlon and Thomas Sullivan, the US attorneys, took no action, in five years the statute of limitations for a grand jury investigation expired.  A year later Conlon took a position with the law firm that represents Searle. (U.S. Attorney, Samuel Skinner did the same and ended up Chief of Staff in Bush's White House. ed.)

1980 - A Public Board of Inquiry of three scientists was activated.  These (2 MDs and one PhD) voted to ban Aspartame/Nutrasweet.  Because of those negative findings a five member Commissioner's Team of Scientists was impaneled: Three said ban; two said it was safe.  Another member was added.  You guessed it: deadlock. Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, PhD, toxicologist on the team said, "Bureau officials were working up to a whitewash.  Safety questions remain unanswered."

1981 - Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. was appointed the new FDA Commissioner and overuled the Public Board of Inquiry's recommended ban of Aspartame/Nutrasweet.  He said his approval was part of the Reagan administration's new reform! Throughout the 1980's Searle has pointed out that the best evidence of Aspartame/Nutrasweet's safety was the fact that it had been approved in more than 60 countries.  But these foreign approvals had been based on these controversial test, and the questionable approval of the FDA. It was approved as a "food additive," and hence, exempt from continued safety monitoring. (Searle is not obligated to monitor any adverse reactions.)

1983 - THE NATIONAL SOFT DRINK ASSOCIATION wrote to the FDA that Aspartame/Nutrasweet was breaking down in warm climates.  But the Association later accepted Aspartame/Nutrasweet. Dr. Hayes office approved the use of Aspartame/Nutrasweet in soft drinks just two months before he quit his job as FDA chief.  He then obtained a job with a public relations firm who represents NutraSweet.

1984 - Seven million pounds of NutraSweet are swallowed by about 100,000 people.

1985 - Reports of side-effects mount.

1987 - ACSN is founded by Mary Nash Stoddard and consumer advocate, James Turner.  They believe Aspartame/Nutrasweet should be recalled and retested as a drug.

(Also, former US Atty. prosecuting G.D. Searle for falsifying original tests, recused himself at the last minute, taking a position with Sidley & Austin, Searle's lawfirm. He was later appointed head of the Dept. of Transportation, over the FAA, and then moved into position of Chief of Staff in Bush's White House. Skinner was honored by the Epilepsy Foundation in Chicago as their man-of-the-year. Former MONSANTO ATTORNEY, JUDGE CLARENCE THOMAS was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, amidst swirling controversy. Ed.)

A grass-roots effort to stop the use of Aspartame/Nutrasweet would be like us common folk trying to get Columbia to stop producing heroin. If we can't get Searle to stop (because it is big bucks for them) we can at least ask our patients and friends to STOP USING IT IF THEY HAVE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS:

Sensitive people would more likely notice the connection between ingestion and symptoms.  Some people do not notice anything until they stop taking Aspartame/Nutrasweet in any form, and then they feel marvelous.

Death is also listed as a symptom.


These are more than allergies or sensitivities.  We're talking about Aspartame/Nutrasweet actually producing diseases, or disease syndromes.How does one take Searle to court for damages? Are there more suicides now because tryptophan is not available?  Aspartame/Nutrasweet causes a blockage of levels of serotonin which is the brain chemical made from tryptophan.  We get tryptophan and its end product, serotonin, if we eat a decent diet, but if we add Aspartame/Nutrasweet, we may not be able to make enough serotonin to keep us from the above symptoms.  It was discovered long ago that serotonin is lower in the brains of the depressed than in the brains of those not so.  Mary Coleman, MD, in the Jr Peds, 78: 985-990, wrote way back in 1971 that the serotonin concentration in the blood platelets of hyperactive kids was lower than in the not so active. The hyperactivity of the children became less as the serotonin levels rose. Vitamin B6 will help to raise the serotonin.

What about this connection:  The National Cancer Institute has discovered an increased incidence of malignant brain tumors in the years following the 1983 licensing of Aspartame/Nutrasweet for beverages.  In the research on rats ingesting Aspartame/Nutrasweet back in the early 1970's, brain tumors were observed.Doctors are not helpful to their patients who complain of the above symptoms because the connection with symptoms and aspartame are anecdotal and there are no tests for the condition except the improvement when Aspartame/Nutrasweet is discontinued. Dr. Paul Toft, a chiropractor from Alexandria, Minnesota, felt awful until he stopped Aspartame/Nutrasweet.  He finds that the media will not touch this controversy, because, as we all might suspect, it will definitely hurt advertising revenue.Can you get your patients and friends to write for "The Deadly Deception," and then do what you can to stop this menace?  The Nutrasweet people have a commercial on TV bragging that they now have 200,000,000 people consuming the Aspartame/Nutrasweet in over 4,000 different products. ("That many people couldn't be wrong!")  Next time you're mugged ask the perpetrator if he is getting Aspartame/Nutrasweet; or when you see someone sitting on the sidewalk, tired, alone and depressed, ask him if he is drinking soft drinks.  Chances are, Aspartame/Nutrasweet IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A LOT OF SICKNESS AND CRIME.  It is not what Mother Nature wants us to eat.

Source: Dr. Lendon Smith's "The Facts", October 1991

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