Observation

"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

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Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Methanol Talking Points

It's curious how several pro-aspartame websites use very similiar explanations when justifying the human consumption of methanol (wood alcohol). It's as if someone spoonfed (not to be confused with the aspartame-containing Spoonful) them what to splat on their website. NutraSweet marketing people perhaps?

As a review, the sweetner aspartame is broken down into phenylalanine, aspartate and methanol post-consumption. Those opposed to aspartame being an FDA-approved sweetner include in their arguments that methanol is a neurotoxin, when consumed without ethanol. This website provides plenty of insight into the interplay between methanol, ethanol and formaldehyde. From it, we learn foods that contain methanol (e.g. tomatoes, strawberries) naturally contain ethanol too. Meaning, no toxicity when consuming these methanol-containing foods. Because of the ethanol. Aspartame does not provide ethanol.

Moreover, methanol is a cumulative poison. Once in the body it's eventually converted to formaldehyde (i.e. embalming fluid). Now let's review a few "pro-consumer" web sites that use conspicuously similiar, red-flag-sending-up language.

At aspartate.org it reads, "Methanol is a natural and harmless breakdown product of many commonly consumed foods. The methanol produced during the digestion of aspartame is identical to that which is provided in much larger amounts from many fruits, vegetables and their juices and is part of the normal diet. In fact, a glass of tomato juice provides about 6 times as much methanol as an equivalent amount of diet beverage sweetened with aspartame. Regardless of the source, after methanol is formed it is further broken down through normal body processes. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the amount of methanol one could consume from aspartame-containing foods and beverages could not reach harmful levels."

At aspartametruth.net it reads (in response to the question "Can aspartame affect vision?") "No. Although scientists know that huge amounts of methanol can affect vision, only small amounts of methanol are formed when aspartame and many fruits, vegetables and juices are digested. In fact, a glass of tomato juice provides about six times as much methanol as an equal amount of a beverage sweetened with aspartame. During the digestion of aspartame in the gastrointestinal tract, the released methanol is then easily further metabolized by normal body processes in the same way as when methanol is derived from other dietary sources. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the methanol from aspartame does not accumulate in the body and thus cannot reach harmful levels."

At Parkinson.org it reads, "The phenylalanine is linked to a methyl compound. When aspartame is digested, approximately ten percent is converted to methanol, which is then converted to formaldehyde, which is converted to formate, which is then converted to carbon dioxide and water. All of these conversions occur by normal processes. These same processes are used in converting the methanol found in many fruits, fruit juices, vegetables and wine to carbon dioxide and water. Thus, methanol is a natural by-product of the metabolism of many common foods. In fact, a glass of tomato juice yields about 5 times as much methanol as a similar amount of diet soft drink containing aspartame. These amounts of methanol are rapidly metabolized, do not accumulate in the body and do not reach harmful amounts."

At aspartame.net, in response to the question, "What is methanol and is it a problem in consuming aspartame?, it reads, "Methanol is a natural and harmless by-product of many foods we eat every day. The methanol produced by aspartame is identical to the methanol produced in much larger amounts from fruits, vegetables and their juices. In fact, a cup of tomato juice provides about six times more methanol than a cup of an aspartame-sweetened soft drink. The amount of methanol in the human diet is nowhere near the levels that cause toxicity. You would have to drink about 675 to 1,690 cans of diet soft drink at one sitting to reach the toxic level."

Clearly these websites are parroting information they've been fed and don't think for themselves. Some business entity with a vested interest in aspartame sales has scarfed up common website names which consumers would search for when seeking information about aspartame. Note that none of them mention the ethanol connection. That’s critical and the failure to mention it is nothing short of fraudulent.

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