Aspartame is a common sweetener that many have used to sweeten various foods and beverages as a substitute to sugar. Aspartame became increasingly popular during the 1980s as various advertisements showcased its alleged benefits to those who either could not consume sugar due to certain health ailments, such as diabetes, or for those who were watching their weight and caloric intake. It was even approved and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to appear on store shelves.
Recent studies, however, have revealed that aspartame has been linked to certain cancers such as Leukemia and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. In this article, you will learn about the makeup of aspartame, its link to Leukemia and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and exploring other alternatives with sweeteners that are safe to consume.
Aspartame is a synthetic man-made chemical alternative to sugar. Its more well-known names are NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Tropicana Slim. It is comprised of phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (better known as wood alcohol). It has been proven through numerous studies that these three ingredients pose significant health complications and side effects. For example, phenylalanine has been known to cause various health problems in children and fetuses. Aspartic acid is classified as an excitotoxin which means that it increasingly stimulates neurons until they no longer work as they should. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, eventually changes into formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. The National Academies has linked formaldehyde to Myeloid Leukemia.
Links to Leukemia and Lymphoma
Aspartame is known as an NMDA receptor antagonist which means it adversely affects pain receptors by slowing down the release of neurotransmitters that cause pain. It is also linked to various ailments and illness, namely attention deficit disorders, Alzheimer disease, birth defects, non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Leukemia. A comprehensive 22-year study conducted through the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study confirmed that a 12 ounce can of soda consumed daily contributed to a forty-two percent increase in risk of Leukemia in both men and women and a thirty-one percent increased risk of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in men. Additional components of the research study included participants being provided a detailed questionnaire every two years and a reassessment of their diets done every four years to compile the results.
A similar study was conducted in 2006 on 900 rats where the aspartame link was traced from their infancy to adulthood. This study also showed that an increased Leukemia and Lymphoma risk had occurred.
Raw honey, maple syrup, and stevia are all sweet and tasty alternatives to both aspartame and sugar. They can be used to sweeten a variety of beverages such as tea, coffee, and lemonade. These can also be used in cakes, pies, cookies, and other baked goods.
In conclusion, aspartame has been widely used for the last three decades as an alternative to sugar. However, it has been proven, through several research studies to be linked to cancer. It is further recommended to avoid using it as an additive to your favorite food or beverage and explore the various alternatives to add that touch of sweetness.