Information on Aspartame and Other Chemical Sweeteners:
Acesulfame Potassium (K) was approved for use by the
FDA as a safe artificial sweetener in July, l988. It
is a derivative of acetoacetic acid. Unfortunately,
several potential problems associated with the use of
acesulfame have been raised. They are based largely
on animal studies since testing on humans remains limited.
The findings showed the following:
Acesulfame K stimulates insulin secretion in a dose
dependent fashion thereby possibly aggravating reactive
hypoglycemia ("low blood sugar attacks").
Acesulfame K apparently produced lung tumors, breast
tumors, rare types of tumors of other organs (such as
the thymus gland), several forms of leukemia and chronic
respiratory disease in several rodent studies, even
when less than maximum doses were given. According to
the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it was
petitioned on August 29, l988 for a stay of approval
by the FDA because of "significant doubt" about its
Dr. H.J. Roberts, Aspartame (NutraSweet) Is It Safe?,
Charles Press, page 283/84.
Aspartame (commonly misspelled as aspertame)
Aspartame, a dipeptide of aspartic acid and a methyl
ester of phenylalanine, is approved for use in pharmaceutical
products and is being used increasingly in chewable
tablet and sugar-free formulations. Labels for both
prescription and nonprescription products must include
the phenylalanine content. The major consideration in
the use of aspartame in children is in patients with
autosomal recessive phenylketonuria. Although heterozygotes
do not appear to have clinically significant increases
in phenylalanine after ingestion of even large amounts
(equivalent to 24 12-oz cans of diet beverages), homozygotes
with strict dietary restrictions should avoid aspartame.
Children without dietary restrictions could safely ingest
10 mg/kg/d. [37-40]. Dietary consumption of
aspartame is typically less than 5 mg/kg/d;
young children, however, could ingest considerably more.
For example, a 2-year-old child weighing 12 kg consumes
17 mg/kg from drinking one 12-oz can of diet soda and
one serving of a sweetened product (eg, cereal, pudding,
gelatin, or frozen dessert).
Headache is the most common adverse side effect attributed
to aspartame but is seldom confirmed by single-dose
double-blind challenge. Up to 11% of patients with chronic
migraine headaches reported headaches triggered by aspartame;
however, a double-blind challenge with three doses of
10 mg/kg given every 2 hours triggered no more headaches
than did placebos in patients with vascular headaches
believed to be exacerbated by aspartame. A small, double-blind
4-week trial showed an increase in frequency of headaches
after ingestion of 1200 mg/d, indicating that a longer
challenge period may be necessary.
In anecdotal reports, aspartame has been linked to
various neuropsychiatric disorders, including panic
attacks, mood changes, visual hallucinations, manic
episodes, and isolated dizziness. A small, double-blind
crossover study of patients with major depression revealed
a higher incidence of reactions in these patients compared
with nondepressed volunteers after administration of
30 mg/kg for 7 days; symptoms included headache, nervousness,
dizziness, memory impairment, nausea, temper outbursts,
and depression. None of these conditions has been rigorously
proven to be caused by aspartame, but carefully conducted
double-blind challenges may be indicated in patients
with histories that suggest aspartame as a cause. Patients
with underlying mitral valve prolapse or affective disorders
may be at increased risk for neuropsychiatric effects;
several studies have shown that individuals without
psychiatric or seizure disorders do not demonstrate
Seizures have been reported via passive surveillance
data collected by the FDA and in a few case reports.
A recent analysis of FDA reports showed 41 cases of
rechallenge with a temporal relationship to aspartame
consumption. Most seizures occurred in patients who
had an acceptable dietary intake, except for a 16-year-old
who ingested up to 57 mg/kg of aspartame. Aspartame
is generally considered safe for children with epilepsy.
One study found increased spike-wave discharges in children
with untreated absence seizures after a high dose of
aspartame and suggested that children with poorly controlled
absence seizures avoid aspartame.
Foods containing saccharin no longer carry a label
stating that the "use of this product may be hazardous
to your health ...contains saccharin which has been
determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." This
warning was lifted in 2001 by the American FDA as saccharin
no longer has been connected to cancer in human beings.
Saccharin may be present in drugs in substantial amounts.
Ingestion of the recommended daily dosage of chewable
aspirin or acetaminophen tablets in a school-age child
would provide approximately the same amount of saccharin
contained in one can of a diet soft drink. This amount,
relative to the body weight of a child younger than
9 or 10 years, ingested for prolonged periods would
be considered as "heavy use," as defined in a major
large-scale FDA/National Cancer Institute epidemiologic
study. In this study, heavy use of artificial sweeteners
was associated with a significantly increased risk for
the development of bladder cancer. An independent review
of this study concluded that there was no association.
An investigation of saccharin performed by the American
Medical Association in 1985 concluded that bladder changes
were species-specific, were confined to the second generation
of male rats, and occurred in association with large
doses (equivalent to several hundred cans of diet soft
drink per day). The no-effect level was equivalent to
500 mg/kg/d.[68,69] Saccharin is not genotoxic;
the presumed mechanism of toxicity is the binding of
saccharin to urinary proteins (not normally found in
humans), creating a nidus for the formation of silicate
crystals, which are cytotoxic to bladder epithelium.
Saccharin is an O-toluene sulfonamide derivative and
causes similar dermatologic reactions. Cross-sensitivity
with sulfonamides has been demonstrated; therefore,
children with "sulfa" allergy should also avoid saccharin.
Hypersensitivity can usually be confirmed by a radioallergosorbent
test for saccharin. In a series of 42 patients with
adverse effects resulting from consumption of saccharin
in pharmaceutical agents, pruritus and urticaria were
the most common reactions, followed by eczema, photosensitivity,
and prurigo. Other reactions include wheezing, nausea,
diarrhea, tongue blisters, tachycardia, fixed eruptions,
headache, diuresis, and sensory neuropathy.
Ingestion of saccharin-adulterated milk formula by
infants was associated with irritability, hypertonia,
insomnia, opisthotonos, and strabismus, which resolved
within 36 hours after ingestion. Two anecdotal reports
of an accidental overdose in an adult and a child discussed
reactions of generalized edema, oliguria, and persistent
albuminuria. Because of the paucity of data on the toxicity
of saccharin in children, the American Medical
Association has recommended limiting the intake of
saccharin in young children and pregnant women.
Splenda, also known as sucralose, is an artificial
sweetener, which is a chlorinated sucrose derivative.
Facts about this artificial chemical are as follows:
Pre-approval research showed that sucralose caused
shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage) and enlarged
liver and kidneys.
A possible problem with caecal enlargement and renal
mineralization has been seen in post approval animal
Sucralose Breaks Down
Despite the manufacturer's mis-statements, sucralose
does break down into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose,
a chemical which has not been adequtely tested in humans.
More importantly, sucralose must break down in the digestive
system. If it didn't break down and react at all (as
the manufacturer claims), it would not chemically-react
on the tongue to provide a sweet taste. The truth is
that sucralose does break down to some extent in the
Independent, Long-Term Human Research
None. Manufacturer's "100's of studies" (some of which
show hazards) were clearly inadequate and do not demonstrate
safety in long-term use.
The manufacturer claims that the chlorine added to
sucralose is similar to the chlorine atom in the salt
(NaCl) molecule. That is not the case. Sucralose may
be more like ingesting tiny amounts of chlorinated pesticides,
but we will never know without long-term, independent
While it is unlikely that sucralose is as toxic as
the poisoning people are experiencing from Monsanato's
aspartame, it is clear from the hazards seen in pre-approval
research and from its chemical structure that years
or decades of use may contribute to serious chronic
immunological or neurological disorders.
It is very important that people who have any interest
in their health
stay aware from the highly toxic sweetener aspartame
and other questionable sweeteners such as sucralose
(Splenda), and acesulfame-k (Sunette, Sweet & Safe,
Sweet One). Please see the extensive resources for sweeteners
on the Healthier Sweetener Resource List. http://www.holisticmed.com/sweet/
Mark D. Gold firstname.lastname@example.org
Aspartame Toxicity Information Center
35 Inman St., Cambridge, MA 02139 617-497-7843
Another sweetener, stevioside, is championed by natural-foods
advocates in the United States and is used in several
countries, most notably Japan. Stevioside comes from
the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni),
a perennial shrub of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family
native to Brazil and Paraguay. Stevia contains sweet-tasting
glycosides, mainly stevioside; but also rebaudiosides
A, B, C, D, and E; dulcoside A; and
steviolbioside. Stevioside has a slight bitter aftertaste
and provides 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar.
It is stable to 200°C (392°F), but it is not
fermentable and does not act in browning reactions.
In the 1970s, the Japanese government approved the
plant for use in food. Japanese food processors use
stevioside in a wide range of foods: pickled vegetables,
dried seafood, soy sauce and miso, beverages, candy,
gums, baked goods and cereals, yogurt, ice cream, and
as a tabletop sweetener. In salty applications, stevioside
modifies the harshness of sodium chloride. Combining
it with other natural and synthetic sweeteners improves
taste and functionality.
FDA considers stevia leaves and stevioside as unapproved,
non-GRAS food additives. In 1992, the American Herbal
Products Association (AHPA) petitioned the FDA to declare
stevia as GRAS, citing historical usage and referring
to numerous toxicology studies conducted in Japan and
other countries. The FDA rejected AHPA's petition, contending
inadequate evidence to approve the product. The agency
does allow the herb to be used in dietary supplements
as covered by DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education
From the manufacturer's web page.
It looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, cooks like
sugar... well technically, it is sugar. But it's sugar
with almost no calories. It's 100-percent natural -
not synthesized, unlike other "sweeteners" that are
chemically synthesized or derived from sugar, Tagatose
is a naturally occurring sugar. And SPHERIX has discovered
and patented a way to make it available for use as a
food additive as well as for a variety of other uses.
It's Tagatose, the only sweetener that tastes, looks,
feels, and performs like table sugar. Tagatose can supply
a major need for baked goods, ice cream, chocolates,
chewing gum, and other food products that can't be met
by low bulk of high-intensity sweeteners. And it's safe,
with over ten years of safety research and numerous
consultancies and world-renowned scientists reviewing
the product. Scientifically known as D-tagatose, Tagatose
occurs naturally in some dairy products and other foods.
Our patented production process starts from whey, a
dairy by-product. Tagatose has been determined to be
a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance in the
U.S., with the FDA affirming the green light for the
product with its "no objection" opinion, permitting
its use in foods and beverages. Tagatose has also been
determined GRAS for use in cosmetics and toothpastes,
as well as in drugs.
About Tagatose: IS IT SAFE OR NOT?
BIOSPHERICS HAS HIGH HOPES FOR SWEETENER
April 16, 2001
Last week was, according to this story, a long time
coming for Gilbert Levin, the 76-year-old chairman of
Biospherics Inc. After almost a decade of study, a panel
of medical experts declared that an obscure low-calorie
form of sugar that Levin has latched onto is safe to
use in food.
The story says that Biospherics has collected $2.5
million by licensing rights to make the sugar to a Scandinavian
dairy cooperative, but the food safety panel's decision
has the potential to open the spigot on what could become
a gushing stream of royalty revenue on every pound of
the product that goes into any food.
It'll be at least two years before consumers can eat
anything sweetened with the stuff, but investors didn't
wait to buy Biospherics stock. The story also notes
there is no way of predicting whether food manufacturers
will be as excited as Levin is about the sweetener called
tagatose. It's a natural product, a chemical cousin
of familiar sugars such as sucrose, fructose, dextrose
and lactose. Tagatose, like table sugar, is a white
crystal; it is 90 percent as sweet as ordinary sugar,
but has one-third the calories.
Tagatose could be the product that converts Biospherics
into what most people have always thought it was: a
The story goes on to say that tagatose is most closely
related to fructose, the sugar that's in honey, fruits
and corn, Levin explained in an interview Friday. The
chemical formulas for fructose and tagatose are identical.
The two molecules look the same, but in tagatose, one
atom of carbon juts off to the left of the main structure
instead of off to right as it does in fructose.
Left-leaning sugars have fascinated Levin for more
than 20 years. He first got interested in one that is
a mirror image of table sugar. Think of the sugar molecule
as a coil that curls around to the right. A backward
sugar molecule that turns to the left was Levin's first
interest. Levo-sugar it's called, for left-handed.
Levo-sugar is a confusing chemical to the human body.
To the tongue, it tastes just like regular sugar. But
the body has never swallowed left- handed sugar and
can't digest it.
Levin spent the better part of the 1980s tinkering
with left-handed sugar, attracting a lot of attention
to Biospherics stock, but ultimately leaving a bad taste
in the mouths of investors. The problem was that the
company was never able to find a way to make left-handed
sugar at a low enough price to give the company a high
stock price. Every once in a while, Biospherics would
announce some development in sweetener research, the
stock would jump, and then it would drift back down.
The pattern continued in the 1990s after Levin shelved
levo-sugar and shifted his team of researchers to tagatose.
The result has been an erratic stock with poor long-term
performance. A $100 investment in Biospherics on Dec.
31, 1995, had grown in value to $151 at the end of 1998,
but by the end of last year was back to $111. As a benchmark,
a $100 investment in a Standard & Poor's 500-stock
index mutual fund was worth $232 at the end of last
The story also goes on to say that unlike drugs, foods
don't have to be tested on humans, Levin explained.
But Biospherics obtained a Maryland Industrial Partnership
grant to finance human studies at the University of
Maryland Medical School, which produced promising results
for potential use by diabetics.
Diabetics can eat foods sweetened with tagatose without
getting the unhealthful changes in their blood glucose
levels that are caused by eating sugar.
The studies did, however, find that patients who consumed
large amounts of tagatose experienced gastrointestinal
distress, including diarrhea, nausea and flatulence.
The intestinal problems apparently result because most
tagatose passes through the digestive tract without
being absorbed -- a key reason why it's lower in calories.
Those lower-bowel symptoms weren't a problem for most
people who ate small amounts of the sweetener and Levin
said he does not expect the reaction to be a problem
for the uses Arla has in mind for tagatose.
Also, preliminary reports exist of the potential utility
of agents thatimpede dietary carbohydrate absorption.
Tagatose is one of the agents in this class undergoing