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

U.S. soldier convicted of WikiLeaks crimes granted name…

By Carey Gillam(Reuters) - Former U.S. soldier Bradley Manning, who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over classified files to WikiLeaks, can exchange…

Local

NYPD #myNYPD Twitter campaign backfires

A NYPD campaign to improve its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of police brutality and tweets critical of the force.

International

PHOTOS: Places to visit on Shakespeare's 450th birthday

William Shakespeare would celebrate his 450th birthday on Wednesday, and England's greatest playwright let his imagination roam as widely as his characters.

Local

Overnight Q trains to run local in Manhattan…

Manhattan straphangers will soon get some late-night relief on the Q train.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

Movies

Review: 'The Railway Man' is a literal-minded look…

In "The Railway Man," Colin Firth plays a WWII vet suffering from massive trauma acquired from his days as a beaten POW.

Books

'#GIRLBOSS': Nasty Gal CEO shares unlikely success story

Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso shares her rags to riches, dumpster to Porsche tale in her new book "#GIRLBOSS."

Movies

App Appeal: Unf— Your Habitat is a sweary…

Guilt trip yourself into some spring cleaning with the app "Unf— Your Habitat," which uses swearing and some rudeness to get you to get your s— together.

NFL

Jets announce they will return to Cortland for…

The tradition of holding camp in Cortland began in 2009 when Rex Ryan wanted to get his Jets away from the distractions of New York City.

NHL

Rangers reclaim home ice with Game 3 road…

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first period for the second straight game. This time, they held on.

NBA

Nets settle for 1-1 series tie with Game…

DeMar DeRozan, who was an All-Star this season, hit two huge jumpers back-to-back to give the Raptors an 89-85 lead over the Nets with 2:10 to play.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

Tech

App Appeal: Unf— Your Habitat is a sweary…

Guilt trip yourself into some spring cleaning with the app "Unf— Your Habitat," which uses swearing and some rudeness to get you to get your s— together.

Education

The benefits and challenges of intensive summer programs

Get the facts on taking an advanced college course.

Wellbeing

Why you need a facial

What can a facial do for your face that a washcloth and soap can’t?

Wellbeing

You can have your healthy snacks delivered

To take the guesswork out of procuring snacks good for you and your family, check out one of these companies.