Artificial Sweetener Aspartame Linked to Anxiety: Study

Researchers conducting scientific animal studies have now linked the synthetic sweetener Aspartame to anxiety. In addition to producing anxiety in the mice who consumed aspartame, the anxiety effects extended up to two generations from the males exposed to the sweetener. 

The takeaway for scientists: Aspartame exposure produces changes in the expression of genes regulating excitation-inhibition balance in the amygdala, a brain region that regulates anxiety and fear.  The researchers found that mice consuming aspartame in drinking water at a dose equivalent to approximately 15% of the FDA-approved maximum DIV for humans showed robust, dose-dependent anxiety.  Extrapolation of the findings to humans suggests that aspartame consumption at doses below the FDA recommended maximum daily intake may produce neuro-behavioral changes not only in aspartame-consuming individuals, but also in their descendants. Thus, human population at risk of aspartame’s potential mental health effects may be larger than current expectations, which only include aspartame-consuming individuals.

There are nearly 5,000 diet foods and drinks that contain the synthetic sweetener Aspartame.  When consumed, aspartame becomes aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system. This latest finding linking Aspartame to anxiety is added to previous scientific studies linking artificial sweeteners to a variety of serious adverse health conditions**.

*The study involved giving mice drinking water that contained aspartame at approximately 15% of the FDA-approved maximum daily human intake. The dosage, equivalent to six to eight 8-ounce cans of diet soda a day for humans, continued for 12 weeks in a study spanning four years.

Pronounced anxiety-like behavior was observed in the mice through a variety of maze tests across multiple generations descending from the aspartame-exposed males. (source)

** Some of our previous posts highlighting scientific studies of artificial sweeteners:

Artificial Sweeteners Linked with Heart Disease and Stroke: Study

Artificial Sweeteners Toxic to Digestive System: Scientists

Diet drinks, synthetic sweeteners linked to increased stroke risk in mature women

Synthetic Sweeteners in Diet Soda Triple Risk of Deadly Stroke: New Study

MSG, Aspartame Linked with Fibromyalgia and IBS, say Scientists

Synthetic Sweeteners may Promote Resistance to Antibiotics: Study

Synthetic Sweeteners in Diet Soda Triple Risk of Deadly Stroke: New Study

Journal reference: Sara K. Jones, Deirdre M. McCarthy, Cynthia Vied & Pradeep G. Bhide, Transgenerational transmission of aspartame-induced anxiety and changes in glutamate-GABA signaling and gene expression in the amygdala, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 119 | No. 49, 119 (49) e2213120119.