Aspartame, an artificial sweetener that contains phenylalanine, can cause seizures, brain damage and even mental retardation in people who have a rare genetic disorder called phenylketonuria, or PKU. Otherwise, scientific evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners approved for consumption in the United States are safe in limited quantities, states Mayo Clinic.Continue Reading
In general, artificial sweeteners are considered safe, but they may cause people to eat more carbohydrate-rich foods and increase blood sugar levels in some, reports WebMD. In the 1970s, scientists performing studies on rats determined that the artificial sweetener saccharine caused cancer of various organs, including the bladder, uterus and ovaries. The National Cancer Institute concluded saccharine was safe for human consumption after discovering only male rats were predisposed to bladder cancer, not people.
High doses of aspartame rapidly increase the levels of phenylalanine in the brain and could be a concern for people with certain medical conditions and those taking certain medications. Individuals who have a sleep disorder called tardive dyskinesia or mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder should consume diet foods and diet sodas containing aspartame cautiously. Similarly, medications containing levodopa, monoamine oxidase inhibitors or neuroleptics should be used carefully in conjunction with aspartame, according to Mayo Clinic.Learn more about Conditions & Diseases