Comment: Democrat Herald response to my article...

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Democrat Herald response to my article...

Liberty, you are incorrect as are each and every website you provide. Claims of safety concerns with aspartame are ridiculous. It is the most tested substance in history; the furans from corn are more threatening. And actually any sensitivity to aspartame probably involves a preexisting personal issue such as a nutritional inadequacy. I will explain both starting with the perception by some that aspartame is toxic.

The fundamentals of toxicology (science of poisons) say that “everything is toxic.” This fundamental tenet of toxicology was established by Paracelsus in the 1500’s (Wikipedia: Paracelsus). But everything about toxicology is dose; the words ‘toxic’ or ‘poison’ mean nothing without a specific dose for the substance. The words 'toxic' or 'poison' are used when the doses required for effect are very low and thus exposure represents a hazard. But dose alone also separates a 'poison' from a food/drug. For example botulinum toxin (Botox), which is the perhaps the most toxic substance known (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botulinum_toxin), is also used extensively in cosmetic procedures. Highly toxic cyanide is found in plant products we all consume; however, cyanide at those doses is readily detoxified by a cyanide-specific enzyme, rhodanese, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodanese. In contrast ‘low-toxicity’ water drowns hundreds of people yearly, but water isn't considered 'toxic' or a 'poison'. This principle of toxicology is as established as the concepts that the world rotates about the sun and that the world is basically spherical; these are not up for debate.

Again everything is toxic--that includes aspartame and all its three decomposition products, aspartate, phenylalanine, and methanol. Where the aspartame critics fail to understand and then mislead the reader is that dose is paramount to effect. That includes 99% of aspartame critics. Aspartame critics cannot now do this and never could! They believe there is no safe dose and this very outlandish claim is part of the reason why they cannot get any regulatory agency to even listen to their long-failed arguments. Realize, just this year--2013--the European Food Safety Authority again validated the safety of aspartame as have 90+ governmental regulatory agencies throughout the relevant world.

Now concerning aspartame itself, here are facts people fail to understand. To reiterate the point that these substances pose little risk at the doses involved, note that formate and formaldehyde are [quoting another] “produced in the body during the endogenous demethylation of many compounds, including many foods [fruit juices] and drugs. For example, the demethylation of the caffeine found in one cup of coffee produces 30 mg of formaldehyde (Imbus, 1988). Formaldehyde is essential in one-carbon pool intermediary metabolism. The metabolite of formaldehyde, formic acid, is a substrate for purine nucleotide synthesis (Sheehan and Tully, 1983). It can be calculated that more than 50,000 mg [that's 50 g] of formaldehyde is produced and metabolized in an adult human body daily and that an adult human liver will metabolize 22 mg of formaldehyde per minute (Clary and Sullivan, 1999). Consequently, it is quite clear that the formaldehyde from aspartame provides a trivial contribution to total formaldehyde exposure and metabolism in the body” (p 18 in and refs from http://www.fte.ugent.be/vlaz/Magnuson2007.pdf).

So the facts suggest clearly that any sensitivity issues with aspartame are PERSONAL issues; ALL can be explained by PERSONAL matters affecting metabolism of formaldehyde/formate like folate deficiency and corollary issues (both known and some likely yet unknown) like often genetic folate enzyme issues (polymorphisms, Wikipedia: methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), B12 deficiency (often vegetarian-related), (genetic) methionine synthase enzyme issues, and/or (genetic) homocysteine accrual.

Moreover, the folate system is not independent; folate, B12, and homocysteine are all functionally interrelated (Wikipedia: the metabolism of folic acid under Vitamin_B12). All contribute to not just the normal, natural recycling of otherwise essential formaldehyde and formate produced from methanol into methyl groups, but the availability of these methyl groups to regulate vital-to-life (DNA) itself. Ethanol (through its antagonist metabolite acetaldehyde) is also known inhibitor of these vital folate reactions. So in these borderline cases of aspartame sensitivity, alcohol consumption may be a prime factor explaining any increased sensitivity to aspartame as well. Realize ethanol, not methanol, is the cause of fetal alcohol syndrome, and ethanol is a documented factor in facilitating many cancer types, for example these scientific papers http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22218157, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16508294, and this popular press article http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57569649/alcohol-causes-....

Critics suggest aspartame causes about every ill effect known to man claiming some 92+ symptoms for aspartame. Analysis of these, however, directly links all of these issues to the above described personal issues. Consider aspartame’s most widely reported issue, migraine headaches. In what I have written above I note that various folate, B12 and related issues better explain problems with aspartame. In this case that is even more likely because migraines have been linked directly to the MTHFR C677T folate polymorphism (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19619240 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19384265). Both papers report complete resolution of these migraines with added folate alone. These investigations revealed that more than the normal daily recommended amounts are needed (2-5 mg), but in these papers increased folate doses ALONE solved the migraine problem [and aspartame was not even involved]. That alone suggests a human sub-population that is even more deficient in folate for which resolution of their symptoms requires even more folate. This year’s Norwegian autism study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23403681, only confirms the current importance of the deficiency issue, but those results may also reflect the fact that most of Europe still has not mandated folate fortification. But this isn't particularly surprising both in view of methanol's requirement for folate for metabolism, but also because folate uptake into brain has been linked to childhood autism, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23314536.

One of the aspartame critic's latest inventions is autism; they have spread this nonsense all over the web (Google ‘aspartame autism’ to see some of these claims). But a recent finding from Norway reported in JAMA found that autism incidence there is markedly reduced by folate, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1570279. That discovery only further documents my argument.

In summary each alleged symptom for aspartame can also be explained similarly by the issues discussed above and all are personal issues, not safety issues with aspartame itself.

John E. Garst, Ph.D. (Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Nutrition)

The most contested chemical additive in history...I'll scrutinize all the more simply based on this fact.

Peace and Love first.

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