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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thyroid Disease and Aspartame - Athlete's and Former U.S. President's Grave's Dz. (Hyperthyroidism)

(OP ED Article submitted to Dallas Morning News)
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network's efforts to educate the consuming public and healthcare professionals is well known, and documented on our website: Now, virtually every web site on the Internet which features information about the adverse effects of aspartame and Neotame is using our original research (at U.T. Southwestern Medical School, etc.) to support their writings. Without affirmation, in most  cases, and with added editorial commentary in many, but at least our educational efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Although we are Dallas-based, our work has been featured by media on five continents. As founder, I have conducted a multi-national lecture tour and been paid as a visiting professor [the first non-M.D. to address the class] locally at U.T. Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

The threat of illness from consumption of the diet sweetener, aspartame, is real and has been felt by many locally and all around the world, as documented by our organization. Therefore, we appreciate the mention of adverse reactions in your interesting article. Thank you for including it as a result of your background research on this topic.

Please allow me to add: Aspartame Consumer Safety Network is not in a battle with Coca Cola, Pepsi, or any other manufacturer who uses the FDA approved sweetener in their product. Our efforts have been directed at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and their flawed [in this case at least] approval process.
All best regards,
Mary Nash Stoddard, Founder
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline [since 1987]

P.S. I am sure you noticed the following wire story out this past week re: Texas Olympic's Reaction to Aspartame. He used our information to reverse his illness:

Posted 6/10/2004 10:03 PM     Updated 6/11/2004 1:04 PM

Disease diagnosis doesn't deter diver     By Vicki Michaelis, USA TODAY

ST. PETERS, Mo. - Justin Dumais was just so tired. Seven months ago, he
hardly could muster the energy for a shower, let alone for the 10-meter
dives he had been practicing more than half his life.

Justin Dumais, left, and his brother Troy compete during the 2004 Olympic
Team Diving Trials.    Photo By James A. Finley, AP

Initially, he thought he was overtraining. After two weeks, he went to his
doctor, who detected a high white-blood-cell count and sent him to a
specialist. The diagnosis: Graves' disease, which causes overproduction of
thyroid hormone.

Dumais, headed to the Athens Olympics in August after winning the 3-meter
synchronized event at this week's U.S. trials, was perplexed.

The disease most often strikes middle-aged women.
"A 25-year-old male elite athlete is about as far from the stereotypical
Graves patient as you can get," he says.

Now, he has his doctors baffled.
He began taking medication in February but continued doing his own research.
He found a nutritionist who suggested he cut aspartame, an artificial
sweetener found in products such as diet soda, from his diet.
In mid-March, he quit diet soda and his medication.
Now, Dumais feels so much better, he questions whether he really has Graves'
disease, which has no known cure.

He returned to the 10-meter board two weeks ago and will compete in the
individual platform finals Saturday
This isn't the tough part, he says. That came in January, when he and his
synchro partner, his brother Troy, had to do well enough at a World Cup to
earn the USA an Olympic spot in the event.

"If Troy and I weren't there, chances are we weren't going to bring back the
spot, and that was our event," Justin says.

The Dumais brothers, who are from Ventura, Calif., and train in The
Woodlands, Texas, have won the last three national titles in 3-meter
synchro. They are considered the USA's best chance for a diving medal in

Before the critical World Cup, they decided to trim the difficulty of their
dives because of Justin's condition. Going into their final dive, they were
behind and had to improvise with moves they hadn't tried in a long time.

"We had to fake it," Justin says. "That was a true competitive moment
because we were down going into the last dive, and we knew we needed it. We
said, 'All right, this is the Olympics, right now.' And we wound up doing
the best dive of the competition."

They finished fourth at the World Cup, high enough to earn the spot.
Over the last seven months, Justin and Troy haven't trained together very
much. Neither considered it a handicap. Troy, a 2000 Olympian, continued
training for the individual events. He leads the men's springboard going
into tonight's finals.

"I have to do my dives, and I have to believe that he's going to be ready
when the time comes," Troy says.

Justin was ready this week. The duo won the 3-meter synchro event by such a
wide margin they didn't need their final dive for a winning point total.

from article by Paul Newberry, AP reporter,  at end of this post:

"Justin had to overcome a debilitating thyroid condition that struck in
December, causing him to lose 15 pounds and making it difficult just getting
out of bed.

The condition was initially diagnosed as Graves disease, a serious illness
that also struck Olympic track star Gail Devers and would have prevented
Justin from joining the military.

But a change in diet cured the symptoms quicker than expected, so the
doctors are still trying to determine what went wrong. The illness also had
an unexpected benefit, bringing the brothers closer together.

"We've had to learn to trust each other the last couple of months because I
haven't been there physically," Justin said."

These observations appear relevant to the occurrence of Graves disease
in both former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara.

(Extracts)  Case I :  A 34-year-od university professor (environmental
studies) developed classic primary hyperthyroidism
after she began using considerable amounts of products containing
aspartame-- specifically, 4-5 cans of a diet soda daily, four liters of
a diet cola weekly, 3-4 servings of diet ice cream a day, and ohter
products (gelatin; gum; breath mints).  Such consumption was
superimposed on her added capacity as a supervisor of aerobics classes
to attain "the mean, fit look". She had enjoyed excellent health until

The patient suffered severe sweats and attacks of sinus tachycardia (up
to 180 beats per minute).  Other suggestive aspartame-realated features
included recent vascular headaches, bilateral decreased vision, dry
eyes, tinnitus, severe  dizziness, tremors, "numbness and shooting
pains in the arms and legs,"  confusion and memory loss,
slurred speech, extreme swings in mood (including thoughts of suicide
that never had been experienced previously), personality changes (almost
leaving her husband and children), a paradoxic gain of weight despite
her physical activity, itching, abdominal pain, thinning of the hair,
menstrual problems, and swelling of the lips, tongue and eyes.
She then evidenced a goiter.

She had been adopted by a couple unrelated to her parents.
Her biologic mother was diabetic.

She received propranolol and propylthiouracil.  Radioiodine therapy was
then recommended.   Since no search for "an environmental trigger" had
been attempted, this keen educator opted for a delay in order to review
the events preceding her illness.  She regarded a doctor's suggestion
that her hyperthyroidism has been caused largely by stress as "a

The only plausible factor that seemed pertinent was the considerable
use of aspartame-containing products.  Her extreme fatigue, headache,
swelling of the eyes, depression, tachycardia and several other
symptoms abated within a few days after abstaining from them.
The thyroid studies progressively improved, and normalized within three
months.  An "accidental retest" from drinking aspartame-sweetened tea
promptly precipitated most of her symptoms.
There was no recurrence over the ensuing two years notwithstanding her
cessation of all medication, continuing a full academic teaching
schedule and aerobics instruction, and rearing three children.

Case 2  This 39-year-old woman developed Graves disease after her
stepsister (Case 1).  She was an insulin-dependent diabetic who began
using aspartame products to avoid sugar.  Shortly thereafter, her blood
glucose concentrations became highly erratic, coupled with loss of
urinary bladder control (ascribed to diabetic neuropathy.)

The patient sought advice from her stepsister when the diagnosis of
hyperthyroidism was made.  A comparable clinical remission ensued after
abstaining from aspartame products, along with striking improvement of
her bladder function and diabetes control.  The latter are consistent
with my repeated experience that aspartame products can cause loss of
diabetes control, and aggravate or simulate diabetic retinopathy and
neuropathy. (1-4)

Case 3  A 43-year-old woman began ingesting two cans of aspartame
containing diet cola, one liter of another aspartame soda, one glass of
a dietetic mix, and one serving of an aspartame gelatin daily for two
years to avoid sugar because of noninsulin dependent diabetes.  She
experienced multiple symptoms five months later that resulted in the
loss of her job.  They included palpitations, tachycardia, unexplained
chest pains, severe headache, dizziness, two grand mal seizures,  (5)
paresthesias, slurred speech, "anxiety attacks,"
swelling of the tongue, and painful swallowing [dysphagia].

The diagnosis of Graves disease was subsequently made.
She then chanced to read an article citing comparable complaints in
persons having reactions to aspartame products.  Her symptoms improved
within weeks after avoiding them... and then disappeared.
They recurred one month after resuming aspartame, coupled with neck
discomfort and dysphagia attributed to "an overactive thyroid".

Case 4  A 54-year-old woman had consumed increasing amounts of
aspartame-containing products-- including 15 packets of a tabletop
sweetener in hot drinks daily.  She had been energetic until her health
"mysteriously deteriorated with a bewildering number of symptoms so
varied and strange that it didn't make sense".  She did not smoke or
drink alcohol.

The diagnosis of Graves disease was made.  She received methimazole and
propranolol, with improvement of her tachycardia.

The patient's other symptoms within the previous year included fatigue,
anxiety, headache, "fuzzy mind,"  depression, recurring abdominal pain,
tinnitus and insomnia.  She had gained weight, despite "light eating
habits" until losing weight when her hyperthyroidism became overt.

The contributory role of aspartame products came under suspicion by her
daughter, who had rarely used aspartame products, when she stayed with
the patient for four days after beginning treatment for Graves
disease.  After adding the tabletop sweetener and drinking diet colas,
she began to experience "extreme irritability which felt totally
irrational and uncontrollable," depression, tremors, panic attacks and
difficult breathing.  These symptoms disappeared when she returned to
her own home, but promptly recurred after purchasing the tabletop
sweetener.  "Then it clicked."  She and her mother promptly improved
after abstaining from aspartame products.

Case Reports: Prior Graves Disease
A 44-year-old executive developed headaches, blurred vision in both
eyes, and irritability ("being short with my staff and clients.")
These complaints began six months after consuming 2-3 cans of diet soda
and chewing five sticks of aspartame gum daily.  They abated after he
avoided such products -- only to recur predictably on eight separate
challenges.  A subtotal thyroidectomy for Graves disease has been done
in 1963.

A 49-year-old female realtor had been treated for Graves disease five
years previously.  She experienced palpitations, severe dizziness,
intense nausea, and an unexplained rise of blood pressure after
ingesting three cans of diet soda and other aspartame products daily.
Her symptoms disappeared within one month after stopping them.  They
promptly recurred on three separate challenges.

A 43-year-old nutritionist had been treated for Graves disease 20 years
previously.  She developed severe depression and visual problems for
the first time within two weeks after consuming 8-10 glasses of an
aspartame drink daily.
These complaints disappeared within two days after
avoiding the beverage.  She refused to ingest it again on a trial basis.

A 59-year-old female writer underwent two partial
thyroidectomies for Graves disease three decades previously, and then
received radioiodine therapy.  She suffered severe headaches, abdominal
pain, bloat, and diarrhea after beginning to ingest diet colas, a
tabletop sweetener containing aspartame (5-6 packets daily), and other
aspartame products.  These complaints subsided within two days after
avoiding them...only to recur within 30 minutes on two challenges....

Aspartame Consumption and Hyperthyroidism: Common Denominators

The occurrence of Graves disease in these patients while consuming
aspartame products is explainable by the cumulative effect of several
factors. These include (a) voluntary severe caloric restriction, (b)
increased energy demands relating to excessive exercise and other
physical activity, and (c) metabolic derangements caused by aspartame
and its metabolites.  The latter include changes in satiety,
alterations of neurotransmitter and hormonal homoestasis (insulin,
growth hormone, glucagon, cholecystokinin) by the amino acid components
of aspartame and their stereoisomers, and the effects of free methanol,
a metabolic poison. (2,3).

I previously emphasized the precipitation of Graves disease and
thyroiditis following voluntary severe caloric restriction to lose
weight, (7-8), especially with concomitantly increased physical

The vulnerability of two stepsisters to hyperthyroidism also may have
been influenced by their family history or past history of diabetes
mellitus.  It is widely recognized that diabetics have a greater
tendency to develop thyropathies.  Mention was made earlier that
aspartame products can aggravate diabetes and its complications. (1-4)

Possible Insights into a Presidential Disease

The affliction of former President George Bush and his wife with
primary hyperthyroidism intrigued the medical profession.

Public health sleuths sought some offending substance in their
environment, especially the contamination of water at several "First
Family" residences. Failure to uncover such an agent led many to regard
the occurrence of Graves disease in each spouse as coincidental.

The encounter of two biologically unrelated stepsisters who developed
Graves disease, as well as other aspartame reactors who became
hyperthyroid, justifies considering the etiologic or contributory role
of this chemical in the hyperthyroidism of President and Mrs. Bush.
Such an association appears to have validity of these reasons.
* There is information "from highly reliable sources" that they
frequently consumed aspartame in the form of
both beverages and a tabletop sweetener.
* Being highly conscious of their weight as public figures,
both spouses undoubtedly limited their caloric intake.
* The 66-year-old President took pride in continuing his athletic


This is an excerpt from nutritionist, Ann Louise Gittleman's book, Your
Body Knows Best.....

"What about Sugar Substitutes? Since we know that sugar will elevate
insulin levels, creating the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart
disease, what about artificial sweeteners?

I remember well the story of Jan Smith, from Idea Today (September,
1991) who at 35 taught bench and low-impact aerobics and circuit
She also drank a lot of diet soda sweetened with NutraSweet and  ate a
lot of sugar-free foods, also containing NutraSweet.
Although she seemed to be fine, Jan suddenly began gaining weight,
topping out at 30 pounds above her usual weight.

She began losing her hair, her skin broke out, and she suffered from
headaches, heart palpitations, and mood swings severe enough to be
suicidal. Her cholesterol sharply increased and she developed ear and
vision problems, shooting pains in her limbs and problems with her
menstrual cycle.  Jan worked out even harder to try to
combat the weight gain, but then her blood pressure shot up.

Doctors finally diagnosed Graves' disease and told her she had to have
her thyroid removed or she would die.
Fortunately, Jan had a background in environmental science.
She began to investigate, and discovered her body
lacked chromium, an essential mineral that aspartame (also known as
Equal and NutraSweet) removes from the body. She linked her symptoms,
including--surprisingly--her sudden weight gain, to the use of diet
foods laced with NutraSweet that she had
begun using in earnest about 18 months earlier.

Within a month of quitting the NutraSweet and all the products it was
found in, Jan's symptoms (and the extra weight) disappeared.
Many people, in an attempt to avoid sugar, use sugar substitutes.
Aspartame (known as NutraSweet and Equal) is an ingredient in more than
3,000 foods, including diet sodas and diet foods like sugar-free yogurt
and powdered drink mixes. Toothpaste, sugar-free gum, pudding, packaged
desserts, dietetic foods, sweets for diabetics, and just about any
product you can think of that used to have sugar in it now may have
aspartame instead.

Aspartame is a combination of three substances: the amino acid
phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (wood alcohol).
Each of these has been known to cause serious side effects.

Phenylalanine, for example, lowers or blocks production of serotonin,
an amine that sends messages from the pineal gland in the brain. This
blockage is a potential cause of carbohydrate cravings, PMS symptoms,
insomnia, and mood swings.

In some circumstances, people may be getting excessively high levels of
methanol; it is estimated that on a hot day after exercising, if you
drink three 12 ounce cans of diet soda, you could easily be consuming
as much as eight times the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended
limits for methanol consumption.
[Thus, 600 mg aspartame gives 66 mg methanol,
which is 8.5 times the EPA daily limit for drinking water of 7.8 mg
daily methanol.]

Exercise can be a component in the dangers of aspartame. Jan, who now
avidly supports the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network (ACSN) in
Dallas, Texas, pointed out that aspartame and its
breakdown products (including free-form wood alcohol) can race
through the system of very fit person who has a high metabolic rate.

When you work out, the activity of all your body systems
is intensified, and so are reactions to whatever is in the body at the
time. Ironically, it seems that fitness instructors are particularly
prone to drinking diet soda with NutraSweet in between classes,
and so may be in the most danger.

Far from being the answer to the sugar problem, aspartame has instead
spurred numerous complaints from unsuspecting consumers, which now
represent 80 - 85 percent of all food complaints registered with the
Food and Drug Administration. Among 93 different symptoms are
attributed to aspartame use, including dizziness, headaches, loss of
equilibrium, ear problems, hemorrhaging of the eyes, and visual

The dangers of artificial sweeteners have become so widespread that the
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network now offers scientific information
and acts as a clearinghouse of information on adverse reactions. Three
Senate hearings have been conducted on the safety of aspartame, and the
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington, D.C.,
now lists it as the third-worst additive.
Since you never know how much you could be ingesting, I suggest you
completely avoid any foods with added NutraSweet
or any other artificial sweetener."

submitted by:
Mary Nash Stoddard, Founder
Aspartame Consumer Safety Network