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A Review of the Impact of Aspartame as a Non-nutritive Sweetener on Human Health. Illustrate your essay with specific examples.

Aspartame is the common name of the non-saccharide sweetener aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester. Initially discovered by accident by James Schlatter, a chemist of G D Searle Co. in 1965, it was approved for use in carbonated drinks 1983 and is now used by over 50% of adults in the United States. Almost since its conception, aspartame has raised controversy; it has been implicated in increasing the risk of lymphomas, cancers of the bladder, brain and bowel, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and systemic lupus, depression, dementia, hair loss, behavioral disturbances, triggering migraines and affecting fetal development when ingested by mothers during pregnancy (Whitehouse et al., 2008). Now 27 years after it was launched, despite numerous studies on its effects, the potential hazards associated with aspartame remain controversial. This is worsened in part by problems of alleged conflicts of interest; many of the studies claiming to prove that aspartame is safe have been carried out by scientists funded by or associated with companies involved in its production. This review will provide an overview of the history of aspartame, its chemical structure, biological fate, physiological effects and critically assess the evidence accumulated from animal and human studies suggesting that aspartame can be hazardous to human health.



4. Conclusions:
As previously stated aspartame is one of the most thoroughly tested additives (Renwick et al., 2007) and yet still remains one of the most controversial. Though its effects have been investigated numerous times, including in 2002 when the European Scientific Committee on Food reviewed 500 reports, the debate as to the safety of aspartame remains unabated. The difficulty in assessing the consequences of aspartame ingestion is increased by the conflicts of interest of several scientists who present data showing aspartame is safe. When the funding for such research comes from the company whose product is being tested, can the research really be unbiased? A review of the literature suggests that bias does indeed occur; while all studies funded in some portion by the aspartame industry determine that aspartame presents no risk, ninety two percent of independent studies have shown that aspartame has the potential to adversely affect health (Briffa, 2005). Though the current weight of evidence suggests that the acceptable daily intake level of aspartame will not be deleterious to general human health in the short term, those with particular susceptibilities such as phenylketonuria and mood disorders should exercise caution. In addition, given that over fifty percent of adults in the United States consume aspartame, and some will now have been consuming this product for two decades, it is now that the true effects of long-term aspartame ingestion in humans will become clear. Therefore a systematic review of the biochemical, clinical and behavioural effects of aspartame within the next decade may finally clarify the true consequences of aspartame on human health. Furthermore, despite two decades of use in the human diet, there has not been a single controlled study published to confirm that aspartame can aid weight loss, which begets the question, when the safety of aspartame is still equivocal, is it worth taking the risk?

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