Sweetener Implicated in Illness
Friday, June 22nd 2007
New questions have been raised about the potential effects of artificial sweetener after a New Zealand woman fell ill, blaming her daily consumption of four packs of sugar-free chewing gum.
Abigail Cormack, 25, of Wellington, went to her doctor complaining of crippling muscle cramps, anxiety attacks, depression and skin rashes, and was forced to take sick leave.
Cormack's doctor Penny Rowley said it was a "strong possibility" her patient had been made ill by the artificial sweetener aspartame, which is used in NutraSweet and Equal, as well as thousands of other products.
Cormack's symptoms disappeared within 24 hours of her giving up the gum, which she had been chewing for a few years.
"She stopped having the gum and things resolved, so it looks like there was a cause and effect there," Rowley said.
Cormack admits her chewing gum consumption was "excessive", but says there were no warnings it could do her harm.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) says aspartame is safe for human consumption.
Pharmacologist Professor Carl Burgess, from the Wellington School of Medicine, said most people were not affected, but some people did react to artificial sweeteners.
"On a personal basis I have not seen it but it is certainly in the literature. Some people do react to these substances, particularly with headache and feeling tired, weary, that sort of stuff, and occasionally depression," he said.
"Anxiety and panic attacks are described with these sort of compounds," Burgess said.
Last year an Italian team which conducted a controversial seven-year study into the substance linked it to a range of cancers.
However the Italian team's findings were later disputed in a review by the European Food Safety Authority, prompting FSANZ not to change the acceptable daily intake of 40 mg/kg.
New Zealand's Green Party wants all fizzy drinks containing aspartame to be removed from schools in light of the Wellington case.
"Many consumers have no idea that aspartame is a controversial additive, or that it has been linked to a significant number of side-effects, especially if it is frequently consumed in large quantities," said Green MP Sue Kedgley.
A public relations firm representing Wrigley, makers of Extra sugar-free gum, which contains aspartame, could not immediately comment on the reports.
Sourced from One News Jun 21, 2007
Footnote from Ideal Health:
At healthyonline we have a policy that we will not intentionally stock or recommend any products that contain aspartame. We do not recommend the use of this sweetener. We are surprised that some companies think that it is ok to add what we consider to be a poison into foods, drinks and nutritional supplements.
The sweetener we recommend is Stevia. Here are the stevia products we stock and some products that contain Stevia as their sweetener:
We have this cook book on Stevia:
Related health information can be found here:
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