Column: Aspartame is NOT your friend

By Julia Chiappetta

A few weeks back, I wrote about harmful side effects of sugar and intended to dig deeper into the topic, but after reading a recent article about the link between aspartame and leukemia and lymphoma, I am going to let this alarming data speak for itself.  There has been on-going research on the effects of aspartame, a chemical introduced to us as NutraSweet, in 1965, and approved for food products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1981.  Aspartame (APM), a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide, has long been discussed in the health news circles and medical journals.

Please consider this repost of DailyHealthPost editorial (May 20, 2019) entitled, Aspartame is Linked to Leukemia and Lymphoma in Landmark Study on Humans.  The report cites, “In a 22-year landmark study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition involving over 125,000 people, significant links were found between daily intake of aspartame and the development of leukemia and lymphoma. The findings are consistent with previous studies in animal models. A recent megaexperiment in 1800 rats tested at aspartame doses much lower than the currently acceptable daily intake (ADI) for humans reported a dose-dependent increase in lymphomas, leukemias, and transitional renal cell tumors.” 

Wow, did you get that? This is serious news that none of us should ignore, for aspartame is not only found in soda, it is found in hundreds of other foods products, including baby food, candy, mints, gum, power bars, packaged foods and other drinks.

The report states that the primary results in the study are:

• Consuming only one 12-ounce can of diet soda per day increased risk of lymphoma and myeloma (cancer of blood plasma), the incidence increasing in correlation with aspartame intake. The risk was much higher in men (it hasn’t been identified why that is the case).

• There is an elevated risk of lymphoma with higher consumption of non-diet soda in men than women.

• Annual consumption of aspartame in the United States is estimated at 5000-5500 tons and the most common product in which it is used is diet soda.

• Aspartame (especially in liquids) breaks down into asparitic acid, methanol, and phenylalanine; when ingested, methanol turns into formaldehyde—a known carcinogen.

• Previous studies that didn’t support a link between aspartame and cancer were limited in time and scope. This study included a large sample size and scientifically-viable time period and tested subjects at intervals throughout the study.

• Subjects’ measured aspartame intake included that added from packets (e.g., NutraSweet and Equal) and contributed to the weighting of the results.

• Subjects with a higher intake of diet soda had a higher body mass index and animal protein intake and were less likely to smoke. (This is highly significant: it is known that aspartame contributes to obesity and metabolic syndrome; the result noted here corroborates that finding. Additionally, this group of diet soda drinkers didn’t smoke cigarettes, discounting smoking as a contributing factor to the development of cancer in the study.)

Clearly aspartame has played a negative role on health and wellness, and as I write this, my heart is focused on the younger generations who have grown up consuming aspartame and may continue to do so. I worry what the state of their health will look like in fifteen, twenty or thirty years from now? 

As always, try juicing a yummy blend of greens to start your day.  Green is a good way to supercharge your morning as you receive the gift that each day brings.  Greens and gratitude help me when I am challenged, so I often go through a list in my mind of the things I am most grateful for, such as my car, my home, clothes, food in the fridge, my family, friends, business colleagues and, surely, my health.  The moments that piece together each of our days are worthy of reflection and gratitude, so let’s go out in our community and make it better with our smiles, our generosity and our encouragement.       

Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook” (Gemini Media, 2006) and is also the owner of Julia Chiappetta Consulting. She lives in Cos Cob. More information and past columns can be found at