Florida State University College of Medicine researchers have linked aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in nearly 5,000 diet foods and drinks, to anxiety-like behavior in mice.
Along with producing anxiety in the mice who consumed aspartame, the effects extended up to two generations from the males exposed to the sweetener. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“What this study is showing is we need to look back at the environmental factors, because what we see today is not only what’s happening today, but what happened two generations ago and maybe even longer,” said co-author Pradeep Bhide, the Jim and Betty Ann Rodgers Eminent Scholar Chair of Developmental Neuroscience in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
The study came about, in part, because of previous research from the Bhide Lab on the transgenerational effects of nicotine on mice. The research showed temporary, or epigenetic, changes in mice sperm cells. Unlike genetic changes (mutations), epigenetic changes are reversible and don’t change the DNA sequence; however, they can change how the body reads a DNA sequence.
“We were working on the effects of nicotine on the same type of model,” Bhide said. “The father smokes. What happened to the children?”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aspartame as a sweetener in 1981. Today, nearly 5,000 metric tons are produced each year. When consumed, aspartame becomes aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol, all of which can have potent effects on the central nervous system.
Source: Read Full Article