From Illinois, USA:
I have always felt uncomfortable giving my son (age 7) products or baked goods using artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame because I have heard it may be linked to Alzheimer's, that it builds up over time in the brain, and, it caused partial facial paralysis in a friend of mine and it gives me severe headaches. Is aspartame safe?
Aspartame was tested for years before the FDA approved its use. It is safe as far as is known. I always remind people that anything can be harmful if it does not agree with one or one has an allergy to it. For instance, some people get ill when they eat shellfish or something with MSG in it, however, that does not make it unsafe for others. Since Aspartame is made from a naturally occurring protein, it is possible to have an adverse reaction to it. My advice is to omit aspartame from your diet if you have symptoms of discomfort when it is eaten, otherwise, use it and other sweeteners in moderation.
Additional Comment from Dr. Lebinger:It should be noted that there's a warning that individuals with phenylketonuria cannot use aspartame. Phenylketonuria is an inherited disorder of metabolism (unrelated to diabetes) where individuals can not metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, which is present in aspartame.
[Editor's comment: I am unaware of any link between aspartame and either Alzheimer's dementia or facial paralysis. Some of my patients have reported headache as a side effect. I feel that it is generally safe, and I use it, and I don't mind my patients using it, in moderation. WWQ]
Original posting 2 Nov 97
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