June 19, 2024

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Aspartame: Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects

Aspartame: Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects

Aspartame: Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects.

The artificial sweetener, Aspartame, which has been classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO), has now been demonstrated to have harmful effects, leading to memory and learning deficits, and even passing on these issues to offspring.

In recent years, global consumption of sugary beverages has been on the rise, and accumulating evidence indicates their detrimental impact on cardiovascular health. It is estimated that 184,000 global deaths each year can be attributed to sugary beverage consumption.

As it is well-known that a sugary diet can have adverse health effects, an increasing number of people are turning to artificial sweeteners to reduce sugar intake. Artificial sweeteners are widely used as zero-calorie substitutes for sugar and can be found in thousands of products globally, especially in highly processed foods such as sugar-free drinks, snacks, and low-calorie foods. They are perceived as a healthier alternative, but their impact on health remains a subject of debate.

Aspartame, a type of artificial sweetener, is used in thousands of low-calorie foods and beverages. Early research indicated that consumption of Aspartame breaks down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol, all of which can have a significant impact on the central nervous system.

On July 14, 2023, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) released an assessment report on the health effects of the sugar-free sweetener Aspartame.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer cited “limited evidence” of its potential carcinogenicity in humans, placing Aspartame in the category of substances possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), while the expert committee reaffirmed its daily acceptable intake of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Recently, researchers at the Florida State University College of Medicine published a study titled “Learning and memory deficits produced by Aspartame are heritable via the paternal lineage” in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports” under the Nature Publishing Group.

The study revealed that even when mice were exposed to 7%-15% of the recommended FDA dose of Aspartame (equivalent to 2-4 cups of 235mL soda for humans) daily for 16 weeks, significant memory and learning deficits were observed in the mice exposed to Aspartame.

Furthermore, cognitive deficits were passed on to offspring through the paternal lineage, suggesting that the adverse cognitive effects of Aspartame are heritable and more widespread than previously estimated.


Aspartame:  Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects


In this study, researchers administered Aspartame or water to mice daily for 16 weeks at doses equivalent to 7% and 15% of the FDA recommended human daily maximum intake. Mice were divided into three groups: one that only drank water, one that consumed Aspartame at 7% of the recommended dose, and one that consumed Aspartame at 15% of the recommended dose.

During the 16-week study period, all mice were tested in the Y-maze every 4, 8, and 12 weeks, and spatial learning and memory abilities were assessed in the Barnes maze after 12 weeks, requiring the mice to learn to find a “safe” escape from among 40 possibilities.

The study found that mice drinking water were able to find a “safe” escape in a short amount of time, while mice exposed to Aspartame took longer to complete the task.


Aspartame:  Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects



Additionally, researchers analyzed the impact of Aspartame on the offspring of the mice and found that the memory and learning deficits induced by Aspartame affected the next generation, with all male mouse offspring displaying similar defects as their fathers.

The researchers suggested that such transmission occurs due to epigenetic changes in sperm.

Moreover, Aspartame increased the risk of anxiety and was passed on to offspring.

On December 2, 2022, researchers from Florida State University published a study titled “Transgenerational transmission of Aspartame-induced anxiety and changes in glutamate-GABA signaling and gene expression in the amygdala” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study demonstrated that the artificial sweetener Aspartame increases the risk of anxiety and can even be inherited by offspring.


Aspartame:  Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects


In the 12-week study, maze tests revealed that mice drinking Aspartame-laden water exhibited pronounced anxiety-like behavior. Further analysis showed that Aspartame affected the mice’s genes, altering their amygdala and making their cells more active.

Additionally, mice that had been exposed to Aspartame and their offspring and subsequent generations also exhibited anxiety-like behavior, indicating that the effects of the sweetener can be transmitted to at least two generations of descendants.

In conclusion, sugar-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, and artificial sweeteners are not a safe and healthy substitute for sugar.




Aspartame: Memory & Learning Deficits and Transgenerational Effects

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