Common artificial sweetener linked to anxiety

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Aspartame Consumption and Anxiety

A study from Florida State University has found a link between aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in nearly 5,000 diet foods and drinks, and anxiety.

Notably, the effects of aspartame exposure extended up to two generations from the males exposed to the sweetener.

Aspartame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a sweetener in 1981.

Upon consumption, aspartame breaks down into aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system.

Study Methodology and Findings

In the four-year study, the researchers administered aspartame to mice through their drinking water at approximately 15% of the FDA-approved maximum daily human intake.

This dosage is equivalent to the aspartame found in six to eight 8-ounce cans of diet soda a day for humans.

After 12 weeks, the mice exhibited strong anxiety-like behavior as determined by a variety of maze tests.

This behavior was found across multiple generations descending from the aspartame-exposed males. The researchers were surprised by the robustness of this anxiety-like trait.

Interestingly, the team also found that diazepam, a drug commonly used to treat anxiety disorders in humans, effectively alleviated the anxiety-like behavior in mice from all generations.

Future Directions

The research team plans to publish additional findings from this study focused on how aspartame affects memory.

Future research will aim to identify the molecular mechanisms influencing the transmission of aspartame’s effect across generations.

The study was conducted by Pradeep Bhide and his team and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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