The Health Dangers of Aspartame

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Dangers of Aspartame

I previously discussed a company that launched an anti-aspartame campaign in New Zealand, and ever since, I’ve been sent tons of questions concerning the various dangers of aspartame. Aspartame is a non-saccharine artificial sweetener currently used in over 6,000 diet and low calorie food products. Popular trademark brands of the sweetener in the United States include NutraSweet®, Equal®, and Tropicana Slim®, which are used to sweeten a number of sodas and chewing gums.

However, research done on aspartame has shown that it may not be completely safe for human consumption, and may cause a number of health complications if taken in large amounts. Efforts to revoke FDA approval on aspartame have so far been unsuccessful, so it is advisable to simply avoid these products whenever possible.

What Can Aspartame Do to You?

Aspartame is an NMDA receptor antagonist, which means that it inhibits the release of neurotransmitters that cause pain within the body. NMDA receptor antagonists are often used as a form of anesthesia for animals, but not on humans due to the fact that they often cause brain damage in rodents. The possible side effects of aspartame on humans include headaches, brain tumors, brain lesions, and lymphoma [1] [2].

Why Was Aspartame Approved by the FDA?

Aspartame gained FDA approval while it was owned by Donald Rumsfeld, who was at that time the CEO of the pharmaceutical company G.D. Searle & Company. Rumsfeld earned millions of dollars by marketing the product as NutraSweet, and when medical research into the product confirmed the risk of brain tumors, Rumsfeld simply hired another FDA board member to overturn the ban that the current board had inflicted.

Did you know? Despite its apparent danger to animals and humans, aspartame has been approved by the FDA a total of 26 times over the last 23 years.

The Health Effects of Aspartame

Any further inquiries into aspartame’s health effects have therefore been relegated to independent studies, which often lack the funding to properly advertise their findings. However, the studies completed thus far show overwhelming evidence regarding the apparent dangers of aspartame.

An analysis done using MEDLINE showed that 92% of non-industry sponsored studies reported one or more problems with aspartame in terms of its effects on health [3]. These studies reported a range of side effects including fibromyalgia, brain tumors, memory loss, lymphoma, leukemia, and peripheral nerve cancer [4]. Headaches and migraine symptoms are one of the most common side effects of aspartame.

An article published in the July 2007 issue of Science magazine featured 12 prominent health experts who support a ban on aspartame. It also featured a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach requesting approval of the sweetener to be revoked due to extensive evidence that it causes cancer. Approval status has not changed yet due to the influence of lobbyists on politicians, and ongoing conflicts between capitalism and environmentalism.

Aspartame can create a number of serious health conditions if ingested regularly. It has the potential to cause cancer, brain damage, and eventually death. It is wise to make healthy choices when purchasing food and beverages, and strive to buy whole, natural, organic products whenever possible. Aspartame with the help of public outcry, will hopefully be restricted by the FDA in the near future in order to minimize its effects on the population.

For organic and natural sweeteners, I recommend agave nectar or raw locally harvested honey.

References (4)
  1. Van den Eeden SK, Koepsell TD, Longstreth WT Jr, van Belle G, Daling JR, McKnight B. Aspartame ingestion and headaches: a randomized crossover trial. Neurology. 1994 Oct;44(10):1787-93.
  2. Olney JW, Farber NB, Spitznagel E, Robins LN. Increasing brain tumor rates: is there a link to aspartame? J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1996 Nov;55(11):1115-23.
  3. Ralph G. Walton MD. Survey of Aspartame Studies. The Center for Behavioral Medicine.
  4. Independent Aspartame Research Results & News. 1998-2007

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Great article Dr G, the more people are made aware of this tocix substance the better. Keep up the good work

  • Tracey

    I have been using “artificial sweeteners” for over 22 years. I was not aware of the health issues. I have not used “raw” or regular sugar in all these years either. Question? is there a risk of side effects for suddenly stopping the use of artificial sweeteners?

    Thank you
    Tracey Kercheval

  • TarynK

    Great article! Thanks for the info.

    I think the first picture in the article is of Sweet-n-Low, which does not contain aspartame. A lot of people think that it does… fact, the only reason I know is because I argued with a family member who downs the “pink packets” like candy. I was quickly told that it does not contain aspartame while the package contents was shoved in my face. ;o)

    Sweet’N Low’s ingredients are as follows: Nutritive Dextrose, 3.6% Calcium Saccharin (36mg per packet), Cream of Tartar, and Calcium Silicate (an anti-caking agent).


  • I stopped drinking diet coke many years ago for general health reasons not related to aspartame. After a few months of not drinking any diet coke, I drank a can of it and noticed my brain got foggy. I couldn’t remember names and phone numbers for about an hour. At the end of the hour after drinking the die coke I got a real bad headache. Now, whenever I drink any diet soda, the same exact thing happens.. every time! Thing is, I did not notice this was going on before I had first stopped drinking it for some time. I must of just gotten used to it’s effect in the past and got numb to it. It’s wicked stuff..

  • Colton

    I haven’t drank diet coke in awhile, but is this also used in Coke Zero and Pepsi Max? (I would look but I haven’t got a can near by)

    I’ve noticed for a long time that my brain seems foggy and this article makes me think that the Coke Zero I’ve been drinking may have something to do with that.

    I’m a little overweight and I don’t want to stop drinking sweet drinks. A friend told me that All Sport was coming out with All Sport Naturally Zero is being sweetened with Stevia. Apparently it’s all natural and being harvested in South America? I’m not sure. Stevia seems to be an all natural way to have a drink sweeter than using Aspertame.

  • Sandi

    Anything fake for a long period of time is never good. I am trying to use all natural (even butter, bread, oil, sugar, etc.) because substituting fake just to lose a little weight is never a good idea.

    Sweet N’ Low has Sucralose, a sugar substitute that is FDA approved. However some say the dangers of sucralose are worse than that of aspartame.

    I chewed gum everyday since I was a kid, and I would have a headache in the afternoon and most nights. Doctors said it was stress related (when I was 8!) In my 20’s I discovered what aspartame does to the brain and nervous system and so I stopped chewing gum found in every kind of gum – and guess what – my headaches went away!

    By the way, if you look for the warning label: “Contains phenylalanine,” that’s one of the three ingredients in aspartame. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that over stimulates the brain…

  • Terry Nicholls

    I’m glad to see this article for the public’s benefit. My wife had suffered with migraines for years and we finally discovered that one of the main triggers was Aspartame. When she stopped drinking things that contained Aspartame, she was able to get her migraines under control.

  • Katie

    Thank you for this helpful article! My mom has been drinking diet sodas daily for 20 years and I keep trying to find information to educate her that it’s harmful to her health even though it’s supposedly “safe” for diabetics. Even if one drinks soda in moderation, is there such a thing as a “safe” level of consuming aspatarme? I would think that even one can of diet soda – 12 ounces – has way too much aspatarme for human consumption.

  • I read a lot about aspartame. I made an article as well base on my research. you can find it on my blog for additional information. It so nice to know that there are lots of people who spread the news to share and make everyone aware in what they are eating or substance they use in their food or drinks. Like you Doc i just want to make people aware in what they are taking or eating. I just want them people to be healthy. Thanks for additional info.

  • travis

    Colton, I tried the Strawberry Star Fruit and Mandarin Orange All Sport Naturally Zero flavors the other day when someone was sampling them. They’re pretty good.

  • Jean

    The artificial sweeteners cause you to gain weight. Affects metabolism. Leaches precious minerals from the bones and slips across the blood brain barrier You are drinking aluminum along with the liquid as the citric acid in the cola drags the aluminum into it. It is a neurotoxin. See Blaylock’s book “Excitotoxins”. It is “sweet poison”. The sweet drinks will cause weight gain. Sugar is sugar and can be like a drug. Best of luck to you.

  • Jean

    Yes, there is a detox that can affect some people. Fake sugars dehydrate the body, among other things. I’ve had clients stop suddenly and have severe headaches, body pain (the aspartame can mask pain until it is stopped – affects neurotransmitters), and in general feel miserable. Go off slowly and drink lots of water. In the long run your body will be so grateful.

  • Laurie

    I was just informed that Aspartame effects seizures, is this true? I use sweet & low alot & diet sodas. I have never heard of this before & would like to know if this is true? If anybody out there could help I would greatly appreciate it.

  • yes it is true, there was a list released of all NINETY TWO side effects of aspartame, please look at this site or my channel for a reference. this was released as a FDA official document.

  • Julie

    Thanks for making the public aware of the dangers of ingesting artificial sweeteners. From personal experience, I know that aspartame is a neurotoxin. My migraines & vision problems completely resolved after eliminating aspartame from my diet (in sugarless gum & Centrum chewable vitamins). My daughter’s severe panic attacks stopped once she stopped drinking Diet Coke.
    Check labels carefully & do not purchase anything with artificial sweeteners! They are even in prescription drugs such as antibiotics. Folks don’t realize that they are a hazard to the public’s health & never should have been approved by the FDA.

  • Posh

    I’ve heard so much about aspartame. Why is it FDA approved. It shouldn’t be approved. Why are they doing this. they know it was bad to us but they keep on selling it. wake up.

  • SF

    Posh, did you read the article or just look at the photos? Wake up.

  • health care articles

    Thanks for post this article sir. I really need article like this for my paper, i’m a medical student. Next week, my class will discus about aspartame. And i really happy find your suggestion about agave nectar, it’s a solution i think.

    In my countryit’s are still many outstanding and it escaped from Food and Drug “watchdog” supervision. That’s why we will discuss about this. And of course it will be inspiration for me to write it on my blog.

  • bob

    Donald Rumsfeld! LOL

  • John

    Sorry to say, but this is all fairly inaccurate. Some of it is based off valid research that’s just misinterpreted and some of it is just nonsense.
    Now, research papers are hard to read, especially if you’re not used to reading them. and it’s even harder to digest when you go into it with per-conceived ideas about what the results aught to be. I don’t doubt the good intent of everyone here, but good intent doesn’t mean you’re right. To help all of you out, here’s a wonderful scientists who has made the research easily understandable:

  • espy000

    Funny because my wife started drinking diet drinks a few years ago then her health took a dive, we finally found out it may be from Aspartame so she stopped drinking diet drinks. After a month or so of detox her health improved drastically.

  • hubristime

    I just watched “John’s” video refuting this information, and it appears to be a troll video. The argument was posed that 89 countries also approved aspartame without also showing that those countries use the findings of the FDA, and intimates that it is somehow ridiculous that there could be a vast conspiracy.
    Since those countries simply use the FDA findings it only takes 1 country (the US of A) to make the conspiracy worldwide.
    Nice try John the troll.

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  • Kauguy

    Every ingredient in aspartame is also in human breastmilk and in much higher quantities. Check it out!

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