Chemistry debunks the biggest aspartame health myths

(Derek I. Batting) #1

For the personal rant portion of this post, click Summary below. Otherwise, enjoy the science. :wink:


Allow me to apologize in advance. I am approaching this otherwise perfectly sound scientific post from a place of equal parts amusement and frustration.

I’ve noticed on any given keto page that there’s one consistency you can always count on. Let me know how many times you’ve seen this in your digital travels. It goes a little something like this:

Person 1: Here’s a picture of this [insert edible thing here]. Is it OK for keto?
Person 2: That looks yummy and keto safe to me. Make sure it fits your macros.
Person 3: I’ve had that. It’s great! Doesn’t knock me out of ketosis.
Person 4: I have some in my fridge right now. I get it at Costco.
Person 6: My whole family likes them! Yum!

You get the idea. I physically cringe each and every time I see someone post a picture of something and ask if it’s “OK”. Then, like driving past a car crash, I refresh the page over and over waiting… knowing… that that person is out there and typing as I watch… it’s coming. I know it’s coming… refresh now? Nope, not yet. refresh How about now? Nothing ye… There it is. Well, shit… Every. Damn. Time.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate people looking out for others and their best interest, but it drives me insane when the myths and falsehoods fly with reckless abandon as if they were long-held truths.

Phew! Glad I got that out! And now for the post. Thanks for hearing me out. Have a great day. :smile:[/details]

Oh, and please do watch the video. That’s where the bulk of the information actually is. The PBS article parrots a few of the points mentioned in the video itself. Thank you.

Chemistry debunks the biggest aspartame health myths


Aspartame has a bad rap. It has been suspected of causing cancer and depression. However, a new video from the American Chemical Society pulls together the latest research on the food additive, and it’s not as bad as you might think.

This four-minute clip, which mentions several peer-reviewed studies, is part of the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Reactions science video series. The American Chemical Society is a congressionally chartered, independent organization of chemists that publishes about 50 academic journals.

Questions about aspartame relate to its metabolites – the chemical products created when our bodies digest the sugar substitute. Critics have raised concerns about the metabolites methanol and phenylalanine.

Over time, methanol can produce the known carcinogen formaldehyde. While this might seem scary, the video claims that the body actually produces and uses 1,000 times more formaldehyde than you could consume through aspartame. After helping to make important proteins, formaldehyde gets turned into formic acid and exits the body through urine.

Some studies have shown that aspartame-made phenylalanine isn’t seeping into our brains and causing depression. Milk contains eight times more phenylalanine than aspartame, meaning your morning bowl of Fiber One cereal — which carries the chemical too — isn’t likely bringing you down. Aside from milk and cereals, aspartame is also found in some types of chewing gums, nutritional bars, yogurts and other foods.

Moreover, the video says recent studies debunk the idea that some people are hypersensitive to aspartame or that it causes cognitive impairments.

It is unlikely that a person could come close to reaching the aspartame levels deemed unacceptable by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To do so, you’d have to consume 97 aspartame sugar packets or more than 17 cans of diet soda in less than 24 hours.

Source: The Rundown | PBS

Sources for the embedded video in the article:

  1. Cancer & Health Risks -
  2. Metabolites of Aspartame -
  3. C&EN What’s that Stuff -
  4. Toxicology Studies of Aspartame -
  5. Obesity -
  6. Methanol -
  7. Aspartame Sensitivity Myth -
  8. US Gov 2015 Evaluation of Research -
  9. Methanol/Formaldehyde Relationship -
  10. Long Term Study, No Changes -
  11. Metabolism:
  12. Microbes and Diabetes -

Studies showing Sweeteners that Raise Insulin Levels?
History of Aspartame
(Jan) #2

Great info! Thanks!


Well, this is good news for my diet cola drinking desires. However, I still have to check to see if it causes an insulin response in me. I think I do that by testing BG, having a diet soda and then testing BG again and see if there is a dip?

(Derek I. Batting) #4

Ultimately, that’s the most important thing when ingesting any artificial sweetener. Everyone seems to process them differently, so it’s important to see how each affects you. :thumbsup:

(Jacquie) #5

I was curious about the American Chemical Society, so I started with Muckety’s interactive map for the ACS.

Frank Popoff

Arnold A. Allemang

(Derek I. Batting) #6

Interesting. What does this information illustrate in your opinion?

Further, here is the complete roster of Directors if you’d like to research them as well:

ACS Board of Directors

The ACS Board of Directors, the Society’s chief governing body, is chartered to “have, hold, and administer all the property, funds, and affairs of the Society.” The Board is made up of 16 members:

Six District Directors, elected by the membership of the region from which they are to serve;
Six Directors-at-Large, elected by Councilors;
The ACS President, President-Elect and Immediate Past President;
The Executive Director of the Society

According to the minutes of their August 2015 minutes (the most recent posted), neither Arnold A. Allemang or Frank P. Popoff were present.

The Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society met in Boston, Massachusetts, on
August 16, 2015, beginning at 12:00 p.m. Pat N. Confalone, Chair, presided. Other Directors present for
all or part of the meeting were: John E. Adams, Tom J. Barton, George M. Bodner, William F. Carroll,
Jr., Thomas M. Connelly, Thomas R. Gilbert, Rigoberto Hernandez, Paul W. Jagodzinski, Valerie J.
Kuck, Ingrid Montes, Donna J. Nelson, Dorothy J. Phillips, Barbara A. Sawrey, Diane G. Schmidt, and
Kathleen M. Schulz. Present by invitation for all or parts of the meeting were: Brian A. Bernstein,
Denise L. Creech, Manuel Guzman, Mary Kirchhoff, Martha K. Lester, Flint H. Lewis, Glenn S. Ruskin,
David T. Smorodin, Frank E. Walworth, Marleen G. Weidner, and George M. Whitesides. More than
four hundred observers were present at various times during the meeting.

(Jamie Hayes) #7

I think that the ultimate freedom is to re-educate your palate away from needing or wanting anything sweet.

(Derek I. Batting) #8

I was able to do that with tea which I drink pretty much all day every day. Once you’re used to drinking straight black tea, everything else sweetened seems to be quite a bit sweeter than it used to be.


Yea, I want something with flavor. But I dislike both coffee and tea. Water is boring. But, I have moved to mostly drinking water and doing diet drinks during my IF feeding window so if there is an insulin response it won’t happen during my IF fasting windows.

(Bart) #10

So what you are say is I can have 16 cans of diet coke a day! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thanks for this! It is awesome. You know, I have always doubted the cancer aspect of aspartame. With the amount of diet coke that is consumed world wide (alone with the other aspartame diet drinks) and for long as it has been around there would be people dropping dead all around us of aspartame induced cancer. While I hear about people dying of cancer from smoking, UV rays, asbestos and many more, the only time I have hear of cancer deaths and aspartame was from a couple of mouse or rat studies. Only a couple. Plus I am pretty sure these were rodents that have been genetically modified to develop cancer easy. Hell, I live in California, I am pretty sure everything causes cancer out here. I am surprised I made it to 43.

(Derek I. Batting) #11

Can you find these studies? I’d be interested to read them.

(Stephanie Hanson) #12


Excellent information. Thank you!!

(Bart) #14

I believe this is it…

Looking for it I found this. It appears it was psuedo debunked a couple years after the study.

(Stephanie Hanson) #15

I wondered about a study funded by the chemical society.

(Derek I. Batting) #16

Is there a particular study you are thinking of?

(Derek I. Batting) #17

That’s probably why they were saying in the video that not one study last linked aspartame to cancer. I personally can’t find any current studies that do either. Like you, everything I’ve found is outdated.

(Stephanie Hanson) #18

The second paragraph of your original post had me wondering.

(Derek I. Batting) #19

Wondering what? I’m sorry. You lost me.

You can review their publications at their website:

(Stephanie Hanson) #20

What conclusions the chemical society would choose to broadcast