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Diet Soda & Loss of Memory

author image Beverly Bird
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.
Diet Soda & Loss of Memory
Products containing aspartame, such as diet soft drinks, are rumored to cause memory loss. Photo Credit dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images

Aspartame as been under fire for decades as causing a wide range of reported health conditions and side effects. However, numerous professional health organizations have spoken out in support of aspartame. It was first approved for use in soft drinks in 1983, according to the website Natural News. Since then, there has been speculation that diet sodas can also cause negative health and neurological effects, including memory loss.

The Aspartame Link

All but a small percentage of diet soda products contain aspartame. The criticism of aspartame comes from the fact that it contains phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methyl ester. Methyl ester converts to methanol in the body, which in turns coverts to formaldehyde and can potentially affect brain cells. Aspartic acid and phenylalanine are also neurotoxic, which means that they attack neuron cells and can potentially cause memory loss.

The Diabetes Connection

Natural News states that diabetics are particularly vulnerable to products containing aspartame, including soft drinks, and have suffered acute memory loss due to the neurotoxic properties of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The Gulf War Veteran Resource Page also cites Dr. H.J. Roberts as indicating that he observed increased memory loss in his diabetic patients who regularly consumed aspartame products.

Possible Evidence

The Gulf War Veteran Resource Page reports that a September 1995 expose by the CBS News program “60 Minutes” potentially linked diet sodas to Desert Storm Syndrome, one symptom of which is memory loss. According to the Gulf War Veteran Resource Page, diet soda manufacturers provided diet drinks to U.S. troops in the Gulf Region during Desert Storm due to the lack of water there. The website speculates that many of the soldiers who most frequently drank these diet soft drinks are among the 43,000 who suffer from Desert Storm Syndrome, the symptoms of which closely mimic aspartame toxicity and include memory loss.

FDA Report

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, the speculation that aspartame in diet sodas causes memory loss is unfounded. A September 2005 report listed on their website as “Aspartame Docket #02P-0317" reports that several studies conducted by behavioral scientists at Harvard Medical School, Yale Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned up no link between aspartame and cognition problems or memory loss.

ADA Position

The American Diabetes Association has also issued a statement that no credible research has proved that aspartame or any product containing aspartame is harmful to people with diabetes.

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