More MS news articles for July 2000

Debunking medical misinformation

Aspartame causes MS, lupus and tumors

17th July 2000

It's next to impossible to trace the source of most medical myths, but a woman who believes that the artificial sweetener aspartame causes everything from obesity to manic depression to multiple sclerosis is behind this medical myth. This woman believes that all the research showing that aspartame is harmless is tainted because it's funded by the company that makes aspartame. Even worse, she says, there's a conspiracy by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others to keep this information from the public.

Obviously, if you believe the FDA is corrupt, it's hard to disprove her claims. But the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Mayo Clinic, among others, have rebutted her arguments.

It is true that a 1997 study linked aspartame with an increase in brain tumors. But Mayo Clinic doctors believe that the study points to the need for more research and doesn't prove aspartame causes brain tumors or is responsible for the increase in tumors. The incidence of brain tumors has been on the rise since the 1970s, before the sweetener was approved. This rise in brain tumors may be due to better detection of tumors because of improved technology.

One caution: People with the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU) and those with allergies to the ingredients in aspartame should avoid it.