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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Aspartame and Mental Disorders

Aspartame Linked by Researchers
to Depression and Suicide

Mary Nash Stoddard
Founder Aspartame Consumer Safety Network [1987]

DALLAS - October 2, 2006 - For the record, 92 aspartame-related symptoms, including 5 deaths, have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fully 75% of all complaints to the US FDA implicate the artificial sweetener, aspartame, better known as: NutraSweet, Canderel, Equal, etc.
At Aspartame Consumer Safety Network [Dallas-based all volunteer international organization], we are increasingly concerned with the more sinister reported psychological side effects of aspartame ingestion. One aspartame component, phenylalanine (50% of the molecule) has been shown in the laboratory to block production of a necessary neurotransmitter, serotonin, which controls sleep patterns and moods. Many daily users of products containing the sweetener such as diet drinks, gums, etc. report both manic and suicidal depressions among other their symptoms. Aspartame also breaks down in heat and in the body to the highly addictive depressant, methanol (10% wood alcohol), formaldehyde [embalming fluid], formic acid and diketopiperazine (a documented brain tumor agent.)

Even subtle alterations of brain patterns in aspartame users may be deemed significant, according to these prominent brain researchers:

Richard Wurtman, M.D., head of Brain Science at MIT says, "There is evidence that levels of serotonin or 5-HIAA are subnormal in CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) samples from violent psychiatric patients and in brains of people who died by suicide." 1

"In rats, the administration of glucose and aspartame by gavage increased brain levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine and decreased brain serotonin concentration. It has been argued that these changes in brain amino acid and biogenic amine levels in rats may have important behavioral implications for humans." 2

Ralph Walton, M.D., a respected researcher at the Department of Psychiatry, Northeastern Ohio Univ. College of Medicine and Director of Research Western Reserve Care System, states, "We conclude that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener and its use in this population should be discouraged." 3

Lane Lenard, Ph.D. wrote: "In one meta-analysis, five out of seven studies reported reduced levels of serotonin and/or 5-HIAA in the brain stems of suicide victims."

Neurologist, Russell Blaylock, writes that, "In the case of children, the damage done at the time of initial exposure produces no obvious outward effects. However, when the child reaches a later stage of development, the damage may present itself as an emotion control disorder [violent episodes, schizophrenia, paranoia]. Hundreds of millions of children are at great risk and their parents are not even aware of it. Early exposure to excitotoxins [aspartame] could cause a tendency for episodic violence and criminal behavior in later years." 5

Aspartame (aka NutraSweet/Equal), as shown in the literature, can be a powerful, mind-altering drug - driving some over the abyss into dark, sinister depressions they can not shake, even with the use of antidepressants. Suicide, for many individuals may seem to be the only way out.

On a brighter note, abstinence from aspartame has been reported to have a miraculous effect on some, allowing for a happier existence and the ability to cope with life's normal problems in a non threatening way. A clear understanding of this issue may mean the difference between life and death for some.


End notes

1 Wurtman, Richard J. M.D.; Effects of Dietary Amino Acids, Carbohydrates, and Choline on Neurotransmitter Synthesis; The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine; Vol. 55, No. 1, January 1988. From the Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and The Clinical Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.]

2 JAMA, July 19,1985- Vol. 254, No.3, p.402

3 Adverse Reactions to Aspartame: Double-Blind Challenge in Patients from a Vulnerable Population, the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 1993

4 Lane Lenard, Ph.D. as reported in Life Enhancement, January, 1998 5 Blaylock, Russell M.D., Excitotoxins - The Taste That Kills

Mary Nash Stoddard, Founder and President Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline [1987 - present]
* Author: "Deadly Deception - Story of Aspartame" [Odenwald Press 1998]
* Expert Medical Witness [1992-present]
* Guest Lecturer: U. T. Southwestern Medical School [1996]
* Visiting Professor: American University [1999] and Univ. of North Texas at Denton [1990 - 2005], University of Houston [2006]
* Invited speaker: Hebrew Univ. Jerusalem - [1997]
* Keynote speech: Mexican Government's Conference on Sweeteners [1999]
* Appointed Judge - State of Texas Board [1977-1984]
* Broadcast Journalist - FCC Licensed - Texas Radio Hall of Fame - [1965-present]
* President's Council on Food Safety - [1998-1999]
* International Lecture Tours - [1996-present]
* Established/Operates Worldwide Pilot Hotline [1987 - present]
Mary Nash Stoddard, author of Deadly Deception - Story of Aspartame, [Odenwald 1998], can be reached at: Aspartame Consumer Safety Network - P.O. Box 2001 - Frisco TX 75034
or email:

Phenylalanine, 50% of the aspartame molecule, uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier, and, interferes with the production of serotonin.

Latest scientific study on Serotonin - the neurotransmitter phenylalanine in aspartame suppresses:
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
March 4, 2006

Serotonin May Play Role In Hardening Of The Arteries

A less active brain serotonin system is associated with early hardening of the arteries, according to a study presented today by University of Pittsburgh researchers at the 64th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Psychosomatic Society in Denver. These findings, which are the first to establish a link between serotonin messages in the brain and atherosclerosis, could lead to an entirely new strategy for preventing heart disease and stroke, say the researchers.

"Many of the known risk factors for heart disease and stroke -- high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, smoking and lack of exercise -- can, to some extent, be controlled by our lifestyle choices," said Matthew F. Muldoon, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "Until now, no one had studied the possibility that brain abnormalities could explain why some people make these poor lifestyle choices and have multiple risk factors for heart disease."
In the study being presented today, which included 244 adult volunteers between the ages of 30 and 55 years, researchers measured serotonergic activity using a pharmacological approach and carotid artery thickness using ultrasonography. At the time of testing, participants were free of clinically evident vascular disease. Yet, those with low levels of serotonergic function were more likely to have thickening of the carotid artery than those with higher levels.
"If, through further studies, we can establish that risk factors for heart disease and stroke are, in part, controlled by the serotonin systems in the brain, it could open a whole new avenue for preventing heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Muldoon.
Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, a chemical that sends messages between neurons in the brain. It is thought to play an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite and blood pressure. Previous studies by Dr. Muldoon and colleagues have found that people who get little exercise, are overweight, have high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol have low levels of serotonergic function. A number of research studies have established a link between serotonin and mood. However, until now, the relationship between the serotonin system and atherosclerosis had remained unstudied.

National Institute of Mental Health Statistics on Mental Health Conditions that may be triggered or exacerbated by low levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which phenylalanine in aspartame blocks:

Mental Disorders in America

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.2Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion — about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 — who suffer from a serious mental illness.1 In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.3 Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity.1

In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).4

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.
Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder.1
The median age of onset for mood disorders is 30 years.5
Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.5
Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.3
Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.1
While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5
Major depressive disorder is more prevalent in women than in men.6
Dysthymic Disorder
Symptoms of dysthymic disorder (chronic, mild depression) must persist for at least two years in adults (one year in children) to meet criteria for the diagnosis. Dysthymic disorder affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.1 This figure translates to about 3.3 million American adults.2
The median age of onset of dysthymic disorder is 31.1
Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.1
The median age of onset for bipolar disorders is 25 years.5
In 2002, 31,655 (approximately 11 per 100,000) people died by suicide in the U.S.7,8
More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, most commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.9
The highest suicide rates in the U.S. are found in white men over age 85.8
Four times as many men as women die by suicide8; however, women attempt suicide two to three times as often as men.10

Approximately 2.4 million American adults, or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older in a given year,11 have schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia affects men and women with equal frequency.12
Schizophrenia often first appears in men in their late teens or early twenties. In contrast, women are generally affected in their twenties or early thirties.12

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia).
Approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an anxiety disorder.1
Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders or substance abuse.1
Most people with one anxiety disorder also have another anxiety disorder. Nearly three-quarters of those with an anxiety disorder will have their first episode by age 21.5 5
Panic Disorder
Approximately 6 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 2.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder.1
Panic disorder typically develops in early adulthood (median age of onset is 24), but the age of onset extends throughout adulthood.5
About one in three people with panic disorder develops agoraphobia, a condition in which the individual becomes afraid of being in any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of a panic attack.12
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Approximately 2.2 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 1.0 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have OCD.1
The first symptoms of OCD often begin during childhood or adolescence, however, the median age of onset is 19.5
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older, or about 3.5 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.1
PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood, but research shows that the median age of onset is 23 years.5
About 30 percent of Vietnam veterans experienced PTSD at some point after the war.13 The disorder also frequently occurs after violent personal assaults such as rape, mugging, or domestic violence; terrorism; natural or human-caused disasters; and accidents.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Approximately 6.8 million American adults, or about 3.1 percent of people age 18 and over, have GAD in a given year.1
GAD can begin across the life cycle, though the median age of onset is 31 years old.5
Social Phobia
Approximately 15 million American adults age 18 and over, or about 6.8 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have social phobia.1
Social phobia begins in childhood or adolescence, typically around 13 years of age.5

Agoraphobia involves intense fear and anxiety of any place or situation where escape might be difficult, leading to avoidance of situations such as being alone outside of the home; traveling in a car, bus, or airplane; or being in a crowded area.5
Approximately 1.8 million American adults age 18 and over, or about 0.8 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have agoraphobia without a history of panic disorder.1
The median age of onset of agoraphobia is 20 years of age.5
Specific Phobia

Specific phobia involves marked and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation.
Approximately 19.2 million American adults age 18 and over, or about 8.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have some type of specific phobia.1
Specific phobia typically begins in childhood; the median age of onset is seven years.5

Eating Disorders

The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia14 and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder15 are male.
In their lifetime, an estimated 0.5 percent to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia, and an estimated 1.1 percent to 4.2 percent suffer from bulimia.16
Community surveys have estimated that between 2 percent and 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.15,17
The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56 percent per year, or approximately 5.6 percent per decade, which is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24 in the general population.18

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD, one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, also affects an estimated 4.1 percent of adults, ages 18-44, in a given year.1
ADHD usually becomes evident in preschool or early elementary years. The median age of onset of ADHD is seven years, although the disorder can persist into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood.5


Autism is part of a group of disorders called autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), also known as pervasive developmental disorders. ASDs range in severity, with autism being the most debilitating form while other disorders, such as Asperger syndrome, produce milder symptoms.
Estimating the prevalence of autism is difficult and controversial due to differences in the ways that cases are identified and defined, differences in study methods, and changes in diagnostic criteria. A recent study reported the prevalence of autism in 3-10 year-olds to be about 3.4 cases per 1000 children.19
Autism and other ASDs develop in childhood and generally are diagnosed by age three.20
Autism is about four times more common in boys than girls. Girls with the disorder, however, tend to have more severe symptoms and greater cognitive impairment.19,20

Alzheimer's Disease
AD affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans. The number of Americans with AD has more than doubled since 1980.21
AD is the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older.22
Increasing age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's. In most people with AD, symptoms first appear after age 65. One in 10 individuals over 65 and nearly half of those over 85 are affected.23 Rare, inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease can strike individuals as early as their 30s and 40s.24
From the time of diagnosis, people with AD survive about half as long as those of similar age without dementia.

NIH Publication No. 06-4584


Mary Nash Stoddard, Founder
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline
[Promoting FDA Recall of Aspartame - since 1987]
P.O. Box 2001 - Frisco, TX 75034 - U.S.