Can Diet Coke Kill You?

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One of the active ingredients in Diet Coke is aspartame, better known as NutraSweet, which was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration about 20 years ago, paving the way for the diet soda boom.

In the years since, a number of people have begun to attack NutraSweet, claiming that aspartame can be broken down into three amino acid components, aspartate, phenylalanine, and methanol. All three can be broken down into smaller entities, called metabolites, which can be toxic. For example, methanol, or wood alcohol, can spontaneously become formaldehyde, while phenylalanine can decompose into diketopiperazine, which is a carcinogen.

In fact, conspiracy theorists credit NutraSweet for causing everything from multiple sclerosis to Gulf War syndrome, but say that "aspartame disease" is what hits most people. Symptoms of aspartame disease include headaches and dizziness … and about a billion other things. In February 1994, the Department of Heath released a list of 92 symptoms that occurred when people had an adverse reaction to NutraSweet, one of which was death.

The fine folks at are at the forefront of this expose. While their Website explains the horrors of aspartame in greater detail, their essential view is that Donald Rumsfeld and the NutraSweet people ignored the potential health risks to push approval of their wondrous sweetener. While some of what's on is notable and perhaps convincing, their tendency to dismiss government officials as Nazis makes them difficult to trust.

Now, according to a study by the NutraSweet folks, "the safety of aspartame and its metabolic constituents was established through extensive toxicology studies in laboratory animals, using much greater doses than people could possibly consume." Of course, as the tobacco industry has shown us, corporations with billion dollar products have trouble accepting that their products may be unhealthy. Can't trust NutraSweet...
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