Sunday, September 16, 2007

Auspicious Aspartame Study Funded By Sweetener's Japanese Maker Ajinomoto

Aspartame targeted for bogus study funded by parent company in Japan

Imagine for a moment that you read a news headline that proclaimed, "Study Concludes Eating French Fries Does Not Cause Obesity." Would that get your attention? Sure it would, until you kept reading and discovered that the company who paid for that study to be conducted was none other than McDonald's! Now how credible is that headline?

As off-the-wall as that example may sound, that is PRECISELY what has happened with a study on a rather controversial subject. This University of Maryland press release details the results of a study conducted by a panel of "experts" who declared the artificial sweetener aspartame is 100% absolutely safe for human consumption. Oh really?

Regular readers of my blog already know what I think about aspartame--or as I like to call it, NASTY-tame! I warned my fellow low-carbers to avoid aspartame if at all possible in my latest YouTube video because there are too many unanswered questions about this sugar substitute with some rather peculiar side effects.

Speaking from personal experience, I try to avoid NASTY-tame because it has done a doozy on my body in many ways when I consume more than just a little bit of it. I can tolerate about 1-2 diet sodas made with aspartame and that's it. Besides the disgusting flavor of aspartame (aka Equal and Nutrasweet), it also can bring on some of the most vicious headaches I have ever experienced.

Dr. Bernadene Magnuson assures us aspartame is completely safe

And this is something lead researcher Dr. Bernadene Magnuson, assistant professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland, acknowledged in this Reuters column about the study when she named headaches as "one possible area of concern" because "a small subset of the population" could be impacted by it.

Why do these "experts" attempt to say this side effect is somehow the exception and not the rule? Statin drug companies claim the same thing about their products causing joint pain in only a very small segment of the population when just about everyone I know who takes Lipitor, Crestor, or any of the other statins experience this. What's wrong with this picture?

Dr. Magnuson, along with various other panel members from the United States, The Netherlands, and Great Britain, examined previous research conducted on aspartame to determine whether there is validity in the claims that it leads to health concerns such as brain abnormalities and cancer, among other things. After sifting through over 500 studies dating back three decades, their conclusion was to give aspartame nothing but high marks as an approved sweetener.

“There have been continued questions in the media and on the Internet about the safety of aspartame,” Dr. Magnuson remarked. “Our study is a very comprehensive review of all of the research that’s been done on aspartame. Never before has a group with the breadth of experience of this panel looked at this question.”

The results of this study were published in the September 2007 issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology.

But the real sticking point to this whole so-called study goes back to the point made at the beginning of this blog post: Guess who paid for this study to be done? It was none other than the Japanese manufacturer of aspartame--Ajinomoto Company Inc. who has an entire web site devoted to this "core strategic product" of theirs.

Just how credible is a study like this one? I'm not saying a study can't be objective simply because it is paid for by a company whose product stands to benefit from a positive report. But you have to admit something really screwy is going on around here when aspartame is given such flying colors by an allegedly unbiased panel.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has given their seal of approval for aspartame, but my personal experiences consuming it are all that matter to me. Headaches, memory trouble, and even weight stalls have occurred whenever higher amounts of aspartame are in my body. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not even mess with these side effects which is why I stick with sweeteners like Splenda instead (even if it is more difficult to find diet sodas made with it).

You can contact Dr. Bernadene Magnuson about her study on the safety of aspartame by e-mailing her at

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Blogger LCT Cathy said...

You go guy! Aspertame is a concoction of Satan IMO. I'm still amazed at how people look at me as if I'm crazy when I tell them that it's not a good idea to ingest.

9/17/2007 2:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

We've been down this road so many times, "oh this new-fangled chemical thing is wonderful, it's perfectly safe, the manufacturer says so!" except then we learn later, that it isn't. Yes we should be skeptical - and a study done by someone with a "dog in the hunt?" Well, we should be doubly skeptical about that. Stay on it Jimmy!

9/17/2007 3:09 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Ah, another one of these consensus peddlers. There's little doubt in my mind that this "research" was done by proclamation instead of investigation. There are millions of such "researchers", these days...

9/17/2007 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Nutrasweet or Aspartame tastes lousy, to boot! Why don't restaurants or vendors carry the diet Coke with Splenda yet? It's not fair--I do this mental dance in my head every time I'm in a diner or restaurant and I ask for a diet Coke or Pepsi, knowing it's sweetened with Aspartame; yick.

9/17/2007 9:28 AM  
Blogger Kenneth L. said...

Shame on ya! Play fair.

Don’t you remember what happened to Dr. Atkins? He was criticized because all he had for evidence was a theory and reference to the clinical records of his own practice. Neither his theory or his experience were acknowledged. It was his motives that were criticized. He was “just a fad diet doctor.” If someone responded by asking the critic to address the insulin theory they avoided that by invoking the lack of objective studies. Finally, Dr. Atkins funded his own university study. However, despite it’s rigorous methodology and its peer review, it was dismissed as irrelevant because Dr. Atkins paid for it.

Only in the last few years has funding for low-carb studies come from disinterested parties. New ideas will always be pioneered by people who have an interest in them, often financial. That does not mean the science behind them are inevitably biased

By criticizing this study on the grounds of its funding source you are stooping to one of the oldest tricks in public discourse – attack the speaker. You are, in essence, calling all the scientists who participated in the study, liars, who are willing to take bribes and risk their professional reputations for a few bucks. You are doing just the same as those who dismissed the university study that Dr. Atkins funded. Read up on the logical fallacies. What you are doing is called the “ad hominen.” It is the most common and corrupt form of discourse used by politicians. Look it up.

Here are some valid questions about this study? What was its methodology? Was its sample size large enough to be meaningful? Has it stood peer review by other scientists? The size of the study may very well miss some reaction in a relatively small cohort of users. However, in that regard, we have to include all kinds of foodstuffs, starting with say, peanuts. These appear to be nutritious for most but deadly to a few. This aspartame study may or may not be a good one, but its funding source is NOT a compelling argument against it.

You will have more credibility if you avoid demonizing stuff you don’t like just because you are suspicious of it. I like sucralose more than aspartame, but not because aspartame gives me headaches, which it doesn't, but because it doesn’t taste as good as sucralose. People are different in their taste and reaction to food. My wife can easily distinguish sucralose from sugar, doesn’t like it, and is mostly convinced sucralose is poison. Many of the same objections raised against aspartame can as easily be raised against sucralose.

9/17/2007 4:17 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your comments, Kenneth, but I make no apologies for my opinions about aspartame. After all, this is a blog about what I think, so it can hardly be argued that I'm trying to do anything to the contrary.

With that said, I'll address your concerns one by one.

Dr. Atkins was criticized because people were making assumptions about him based on their own theories about health rather than testing his hypothesis for themselves. Now that studies are confirming the work he did was in fact valid and accurate, there are STILL people who disagree with it because it goes against everything they've ever been taught about health.

I am not merely criticizing this study based on the funding source, but you cannot overlook this glaring fact, Kenneth. What about the anecdotal stories of people like me who have had ill effects? And, mind you, I am not even close to being the only one. Are they just gonna ignore that pesky little side effect, hmmmm?

Do not insult my intelligence with your lecture about "ad hominen" attacks. As someone who has worked in the midst of political circles for 15 years, I am abundantly aware of this tactic implored by extremists with an agenda to spread.

You'll note in my column that I state "I'm not saying a study can't be objective simply because it is paid for by a company whose product stands to benefit from a positive report." I am confident the Atkins studies funded by the Atkins foundation are legit because they publish the results whether they are good or bad.

But the aspartame study (which was not really a new "study" per se, just a review of past studies) just seems to cut and dry to me. You ask some excellent questions and I too have those concerns.

Thank you again for sharing your response, but this is a blog about my opinions and I was happy to share what was on my mind regarding this bogus aspartame study. Please feel free to chime in anytime with your opinions too and I welcome them anytime. Take care!

9/17/2007 4:38 PM  
Blogger Kenneth L. said...

Jimmy, I offer this as a frequent reader, one who greatly admires your personal achievement and the value of this blog, which has been an inspiration to me and a copious source of new and helpful information and encouragement. Perhaps I have not said that often enough to offer what I think is a gentle critique.

I'm fine with your opinions about aspartame and your perfect right to express it. I don't much like it either. There are good reasons why you don't like it. But the focus of this piece and the "sugar busters" piece did not seem to focus on those valid reasons. Instead it seemed to focus on the idea that the funding source invalidated the study. At least, that is what it sounded like to me. Your brief disclaimer was pretty well nullified when you said, "Guess who paid for this study to be done?" Which seems to say, "I'm not saying a study can't be objective simply because it is paid for by a company whose product stands to benefit from a positive report"...unless it is people who make aspartame.

Your personal experience with aspartame is certainly valid and useful to know but I think it is worth mentioning that there are plenty of people who's personal experience with sucralose is not so good either and who have grave misgivings about it. To say nothing of honey, which is toxic to some.

However, its the play given to the innuendo about the funding that let me down. Let me offer this litmus test, and I will shut up. Are you willing to meet the folks personally involved in this study, look them in the eye, and say, "I just don't trust you and nobody else should either?"

Whether it was the intent or not, that is what the innuendo of the sugar busters piece sounded like to me, which you seem to have pretty much repeated. That just doesn't sound like the Jimmy Moore I admire. I had no trouble with you reporting on the Sugar Busters piece. That kind of reporting is an important and valuable service you provide and keeps me coming back here most every day. I was just dismayed that you seemed to make the funding source argument your own.

But then, maybe I am just not reading right what it was you wrote. If that is the case, please forgive me and keep up the good work.

Ken Morgan

9/18/2007 12:18 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANK YOU again Ken and I appreciate your perspective. I also am grateful for your readership and that you find some merit in the work I am doing here to educate, encourage, and inspire others with my own story through this blog.

And that's what I do here. This blog is as much about what I think and what my experiences are as anything. I've never pretended to be anything else but that in the 2 1/2 years of this blog's existence. What you see is Jimmy Moore unplugged.

With that said, my purpose when writing an article on my blog is not to give every single exhaustive reason for this and that regarding the subject matter. My readers are intelligent enough to draw their own conclusions and respond accordingly. That's what you have done and I appreciate your input.

This blog is kinda like a talk show: I present some information mixed in with my opinion about it and then you the reader has a chance to react to it. That's it. It's good to stimulate debate even when you are on the other side of the issue.

As for sucralose (Splenda), I have blogged about my opinions regarding this WONDERFUL sugar alternative and would welcome anyone to share their personal stories using it. Hardly anyone complains about Splenda use, Ken, but I receive literally hundreds of e-mails complaining about aspartame. HUNDREDS! Mostly people who get headaches and have trouble concentrating when they consume aspartame.

If you'll click on that link above about Splenda, then you will see my opinion of those who are making the most noise in opposition to it. They are FUNDED (again, this is vitally important!) by the Sugar Association who would like nothing more than to see the complete destruction of a company whose products are cutting into their bottom line. To ignore this kind of connection to the criticisms would be selling my readers short on the facts they deserve to hear.

THANK YOU again for your kind comments and I do hope you will continue reading even when you disagree with the content and/or tact of presentation. Have a great day!

Your personal experience with aspartame is certainly valid and useful to know but I think it is worth mentioning that there are plenty of people who's personal experience with sucralose is not so good either and who have grave misgivings about it. To say nothing of honey, which is toxic to some.

9/18/2007 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aspartame is a funny thing. Everyone "knows" it's bad, but no-one can ever reproduce the anecdotal symptoms in placebo controlled double blind trials, regardless of who funds them. Why is that?

9/23/2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger Jan/ said...

Am I the only one who has digestive problems with Aspartame? If I drink or eat something containing Aspartame, I will be spending the next few hours in the ladies room, guaranteed. Whenever I get an upset tummy, I can trace it back to something with Aspartame about 95% of the time.

9/23/2007 12:52 PM  
Blogger Rich Murray said...

13 mainstream research studies in 24 months showing aspartame toxicity, also 3 relevant studies on methanol and formaldehyde: Murray 2007.09.29

Aspartame toxicity was shown in thirteen detailed mainstream research studies in 24 months in work by expert teams in South Africa, England, Italy, Greece, Hungary, and Mexico.

Very little has been publicized in mass print and broadcast media.

Also highly relevant are a study in South Korea that finds levels of methanol similar to those from aspartame drinks cause the hangovers from alcohol drinks, a study in China on Alzheimer's type damage in nerve cells from low dose formaldehyde, and an IARC review by 25 experts that determines formaldehyde to be a human carcinogen.

9/28/2007 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Dianne said...

More and more people are educating themselves about "aspartame"...."sweet poison" and that is commendable. The FDA and HEALTH CANADA are NOT to be trusted!!!

I am concerned about SPLENDA (sucralose)...the "new sweetner"
Instead of formaldehyde...we now have sugar molecules converted into chlorine!!!

4/19/2008 11:36 PM  

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