New York Times: No Harm From Artificial Sweeteners
The anti-aspartame crowd will find this a bitter pill to swallow.
The New York Times health care section ran an article the other day compiling the arguments as to why artificial sweeteners are not harmful to people. Simultaneously, they make the case as to why sugar, the sugar we add to our diets, is the real demon threatening people’s heath. In the fallacy-filled world of the “naturalists” who’s motto boils down to “natural = good, artificial = bad”, this is a reality check that they will find terribly uncomfortable.
Aaron Carroll does a very nice, neat, and tidy job of putting the data in to proper perspective. The history of artificial sweeteners is rife with outcries from people who read (or misread) studies and articles that link artificial sweeteners to cancer in lab rats. Valid enough, except that lab rats are not people, and over the course of time, the data has shown that people do not develop cancer as a result of consuming aspartame, saccharin, or other artificial sweeteners. Sugar, on the other hand, has been proven to be a leading cause of weight-gain and related diseases, such as the development of type-2 diabetes in people of all ages.
What about other “issues” that the Dr. Mercola’s of the world lay at the feet of companies producing aspartame? According to him, aspartame can trigger or cause dizziness, depression, slurred speech, hearing loss, rashes, joint pain, birth defects, epilepsy, and anything/everything else that humans suffer with in life. This is a combination of extrapolation of more rat studies, along with outright lies and fear-mongering with no science to back up the claims. As Harriet Hall puts it:
“When the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food evaluated aspartame, they found over 500 papers on aspartame published between 1988 and 2001. It has been studied in animals, in various human populations including infants, children, women, obese adults, diabetics, and lactating women. Numerous studies have ruled out any association with headaches, seizures, behavior, cognition, mood, allergic reactions, and other conditions. It has been evaluated far more extensively than any other food additive.”
So the next time you receive a spam email or Faceboook post extolling the harms of aspartame, reply with this article from The New York Times as you enjoy an ice-cold diet soda on a hot and steamy summer day.