ASK DR LAURO
Editor's Note: Dr. Lauro welcomes questions of general medical interest and will answer questions sent in by readers every Wednesday in his articles. Please send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Lauro responds to reader's comments about Nutrasweet:
I would never have imagined that an article on soda pop could be so controversial! I had several letters from readers who feel that Nutrasweet should be called "nutrapoison." As you may remember from the article last week, I was advocating drinking LESS soda pop (NOT MORE) and drinking MORE water (not less). What could be wrong with this suggestion? However, because I simply refuse to condemn diet soda pop and will not advocate stopping its consumption altogether, some readers felt I was "pushing" Nutrasweet. I am not pushing anything. But because the mainstream scientific data does not support the conclusion that these drinks are unsafe, I cannot advise people to stop drinking them, only to reduce the overall consumption in favor of drinking more water.
I also stated that current medical research in mainstream medical journals from mainstream medical centers have not shown any significant health problems from consuming Nutrasweet (Aspartame artificial sweetener). So I stick by my guns and say soda pop, diet or otherwise, in moderation, is safe, but I still advise drinking less soda and more water instead.
I have enclosed the abstract from a recent review of Nutrasweet for those interested to read. This is from pharmacology--toxicology journal:
Aspartame: review of safety.
Butchko HH, Stargel WW, Comer CP, Mayhew DA, Benninger C, Blackburn GL, de Sonneville LM, Geha RS, Hertelendy Z, Koestner A, Leon AS, Liepa GU, McMartin KE, Mendenhall CL, Munro IC, Novotny EJ, Renwick AG, Schiffman SS, Schomer DL, Shaywitz BA, Spiers PA, Tephly TR, Thomas JA, Trefz FK.
Over 20 years have elapsed since aspartame was approved by regulatory agencies as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. The safety of aspartame and its metabolic constituents was established through extensive toxicology studies in laboratory animals, using much greater doses than people could possibly consume. Its safety was further confirmed through studies in several human subpopulations, including healthy infants, children, adolescents, and adults; obese individuals; diabetics; lactating women; and individuals heterozygous (PKUH) for the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) who have a decreased ability to metabolize the essential amino acid, phenylalanine. Several scientific issues continued to be raised after approval, largely as a concern for theoretical toxicity from its metabolic components--the amino acids, aspartate and phenylalanine, and methanol--even though dietary exposure to these components is much greater than from aspartame. Nonetheless, additional research, including evaluations of possible associations between aspartame and headaches, seizures, behavior, cognition, and mood as well as allergic-type reactions and use by potentially sensitive subpopulations, has continued after approval. These findings are reviewed here. The safety testing of aspartame has gone well beyond that required to evaluate the safety of a food additive. When all the research on aspartame, including evaluations in both the pre-marketing and post marketing periods, is examined as a whole, it is clear that aspartame is safe, and there are no unresolved questions regarding its safety under conditions of intended use.