Dr. Woodrow C. Monte’s Methanol Research – University Of Arizona - Part 7

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accounts for almost universal violent epigastric pain and occasional elevated serum amylase levels which marks the end of the latent period.

There is a generally accepted association between alcoholism and pancreatitis. Most patients, however, give a history of 5 to 10 years of heavy drinking before the onset of the first attack. The fact that 40% of all cases of acute pancreatitis complaints are attributable to alcoholics, however, must be taken into consideration to avoid artifactual association. Pancreatitis has been a complaint associated with aspartame consumption.

Methanol and the Heart:

A 21-year-old non-drinking male who had been exposed daily to the fine dust of aspartame at the packaging plant he had worked for over a year, was complaining of blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and severe depression before his sudden death. An autopsy revealed (aside from the organ involvement one might expect from methanol toxicity) myocardial hypertrophy and dilatation with the myocardiopathy and left ventricle involvement reminiscent of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy however typically occurs in 30-55 year old men who have a history of alcohol intake in quantities comprising 30 to 50 percent of their daily caloric requirement over a 10 to 15 year period.

It has been suggested that alcohol is the etiologic factor in a least 50 percent of the cases of congestive cardiomyopathy. The significantly lower hospitalization incidence for coronary disease among moderate drinkers than among nondrinkers and protection to coronary risk afforded the moderate drinker (less than two drinks a day) over the nondrinker seems contradictory. However, if we implicate methanol as the etiologic factor, then clearly the nondrinker is at a disadvantage with a much lower ethanol to methanol ration (Table 1) when consuming naturally occurring methanol in a diet otherwise equivalent to the drinkers. The chronic alcoholic for reasons already proposed might sacrifice this protection.

As mentioned below, high temperature canning as developed late in the 19th century should increase significantly the methanol content of fruits and vegetables. The increased availability and consumption of these food products in various countries over the years may parallel better than most other dietary factors the increase in incidence of coronary disease in their populations. Cigarette smoke, a known coronary risk factor, contains four times as much methanol as formaldehyde and only traces of ethanol.


The importance of ethanol as an antidote to methanol toxicity in humans is very well established in the literature. The timely administration of ethanol is still considered a vital part of methanol poisoning management. Ethanol slows the rate of methanol's...


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