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
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.