Is Aspartame Safe???

Aspartame is a sugar substitute that is found in over 6,000 food products world wide.  With it’s increase in popularity as a nonnutritive sweetener, there has been growing concern as to the safety of Aspartame.  There have been accusations that Aspartame can cause serious health problems including an increased risk of cancer, impaired nervous system function and it has a negative impact on reproductive health.

To address this issue, a panel of experts reviewed virtually all of the safety-related literature that was published on the topic to date.  This included almost 500 scientific articles, toxicology studies and epidemiological studies.  The result of their findings was published in the September 2007 issue of Critical Reviews in Toxicology. 

Overall, they found that current intake levels (even by high users) are still well below the FDA’s established acceptable daily intake level of 50 mg/kg body weight daily.  “This level equates to a 150-pound person consuming 20 cans (12 ounces each) of diet soda or almost 100 packets of tabletop sweetener daily, over a lifetime.”  In fact, according to the NHANES database, the average intake of aspartame among people who use this product in the U.S. is only 4.9 mg/kg body weight daily. 

The review of the literature found that “aspartame did not have adverse effects on nervous system function, learning or behavior; no valid cancer link; no effects on reproductive health or lactation”.  They also state that it is safe for people with diabetes and chronic renal failure to use aspartame. 

To date it seems that many of the accusations are not supported by the literature.  However, as with anything else in nutrition, moderation is usually the key!

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Reference: Retelny, S. Panal finds Aspartame Safe for Everyday UseADA Times. March, 2008.