Aspartame: The Skinny on its Safety

coffee

This article first appeared on www.healthbytesNYC.com

These days it’s hard to remember a time before artificial sweeteners. The little pink, blue and yellow packets of zero-calorie sugar substitutes have made their way into almost every food establishment, including hospitals. These products have all the sweetness of regular sugar without the added calories, making them a great substitute for anyone trying to limit calorie or carbohydrate intake. Diabetics especially use artificial sweeteners to enjoy sweet foods and beverages without adding sugar.

Conflicting Reports
Artificial sweeteners have gotten some bad press over the past few decades, in particular, aspartame, known commercially as Equal. It debuted in the 1960s and was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981. During the 1980s, reports that aspartame was linked to cancer in rats began to circulate. Now 30 years later, the controversy still continues. In recent news, the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) in Italy conducted a study to evaluate if feeding mice high levels of aspartame over their lifespan would lead to an increased incidence of cancer. The study did find that in male rats, there was significantly more carcinoma found after death.

The Final Verdict—It’s Fine
The FDA reviewed the European study and published a statement saying it, “does not support ERF’s conclusion that aspartame is a carcinogen.” The FDA concluded that the study did not provide enough evidence that aspartame is unsafe to consume in humans. Likewise, past studies done in humans have not supported similar findings. In addition to the FDA, The American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics performed its own evaluation of research studies and reported that aspartame was not associated with adverse health effects in the general public. In further support, The National Cancer Institute released a fact sheet in 2009 on aspartame, which states, “There is no clear evidence that the artificial sweeteners available commercially in the United States are associated with cancer risk in humans.”

But, How Much is OK?
Despite rumors, the overwhelming evidence is in support of aspartame. Which leaves the question, how much aspartame is a safe amount? The FDA has determined that a daily consumption of less than 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is acceptable. A typical 12-ounce diet soda has about 180 mg of aspartame. Bottom line: A person who weighs 160 pounds has to drink more than 20 diet sodas a day to exceed the safe consumption level of aspartame.

Benefits Outweigh Risks
Until the evidence proves otherwise, it’s safe to say that the benefits of a non-calorie sweetener like aspartame outweigh the risks. Decreasing the amount of calories and sugar in the foods and beverages we consume can help promote weight loss. With obesity on the rise in the United States, losing some pounds can make a difference in our daily lives and for disease prevention in the future.

Stephanie Mendez, RD is a clinical dietician at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals in the food and nutrition services department. Information provided by Stefanie Mendez, RD, a Clinical Dietitian at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

National

Missouri man charged with sexually torturing five women

A Missouri man has been charged with raping and torturing five women in a St. Louis-area apartment over several years, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Report: NYPD disbands controversial Muslim surveillance program

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the police unit behind NYPD's Muslim surveillance program was disbanded.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.