Re: aspartame
Fri, 7 May 1999 20:21:44 EDT

Hi Chuck,

You said,

<< This is interesting. I am aware that methanol is toxic; there have been a
number of cases of blindness caused by methanol poisoning (I remember
reading about a large number of cases in Algeria some time ago). However,
how much aspartame is there in foodstuff? Considering the small amount in
packaged artificial sweetener in restaurants, I would think not very much.
If methanol is only 10% of that, how much would an average user take in per
day? How does it compare with methanol levels in other foodstuffs?

I do not know the answers to these questions.

>>You mention that methanol "breaks down into several carcinogens." Methanol,
CH3OH, is a very simple molecule. My organic chemistry is very rusty, but
I can only think of two possible reactions, an oxidation to form
formaldehyde (CH2O) and an oxidation to form CO2 and H2O.>>

Formaldehyde is indeed on of them. According to Whitaker, the other two are
formic acid (a poison) and diketopiperazine (DKP, which causes brain tumors).

<<If the FDA is indeed putting private profits of large industries ahead of
public health and this is documented, how does the FDA get away with it and
why doesn't somebody take them to court?>>

The pharmaceutical industry is much larger and better financed than anyone
opposing it; and the FDA, composed largely of doctors trained with heavy
pharmaceutical industry influence and supporting the medical establishment's
sole right to profit via being the only ones licensed to dispense drugs,
opposes natural unpatentable nutritional supplements which are not drugs.
The FDA has been sued more than once; but, my impression is that only in
recent times have the courts ruled against it.

A recent case which the FDA lost involved their attempt to prohibit the
manufacture and sale of a red yeast rice supplement called Cholestin. The
FDA agreed that it was perfectly safe, but it contained a naturally occurring
amount of the same active ingredient in the prescription drug Mevacor.

According to the General Accounting Office, the "GAO found that of the 198
drugs approved by FDA between 1976 and 1985...102 (or 51.5%) had serious
risks...the serious postapproval risks [included] heart failure, myocardial
infarction, anaphylaxis, respiratory depression and arrest, seizures, kidney
and liver failure, severe blood disorders, birth defects and fetal toxicity
and blindness." GAO\PEMD 90-15 FDA Drug Review: Postapproval Risks
1976-1985, page 3.

James P Carter, M.D. Professor of Nutrition at Tulane U. School of Public
Health is quoted in What Your Doctor Won't Tell You by Jane Heimlich (wife of
the doctor who discovered and publicized the Heimlich manouver) as saying,
"I also became aware of efforts on the part of the pharmaceutical industry,
allied with some elements of organized medicine and members of the Food and
Drug Administration, to discredit nutritional therapies that might compete
with costly patented prescription drugs. This powerful medical-drug complex
is also engaged in a conspiracy to harass physicians who practice alternative

One of those physicians is Jonathan Wright, M.D., one of the finest
alternative phyisicans in the country in my opinion. A few years ago, 16 FDA
agents with bullet proof vests and brandishing guns burst into his office and
confiscated all this equipment, records and inventory of vitamins. They also
arrested him and claimed he was making illegal drugs and injecting them
because he was injecting vitamin B-12 and doing intravenous vitamin therapy.
He won that case; but, the case illustrates how the FDA is watching out for
the drug industry, not public health.

Wright's newsletter, which is one of the best, keeps some tabs on the actions
of the FDA if you want to follow it. The main body of the letter, however,
is about nutritional therapies. Call 1-800-528-0559 if interested in
subscribing. There also a several other groups working to overcome FDA


There is a lot of ignorance and hype about dangers of this and that. But,
the dangers posed by the medical establishment and the FDA are real.

I orginally thought to reply off list to you as you suggested; but, this is
an issue the ASA should perhaps be interested in for ethical reasons.

Paul S.