This Sweetener Linked To Anxiety Is In 5,000 Foods And Drinks (M)

The anxiety-provoking effects of the sweetener continued across two generations.

The anxiety-provoking effects of the sweetener continued across two generations.

The common sweetener aspartame, used in many foods and drinks, is linked to anxiety, research finds.

The study on mice found that the anxiety-inducing effects of the artificial sweetener were passed down over two generations, despite subsequent mice not being exposed to aspartame.

Aspartame, which has been controversially linked to a range of problems, is used in almost 5,000 foods and drinks that are promoted as ‘diet’.

The drug was approved by the FDA in 1981, but there are limits on how much can be used.

Aspartame and anxiety

For the study, mice were fed the equivalent of 15 percent of the maximum daily intake of aspartame each day over 12 weeks — roughly equivalent to six to eight cans of diet soda for humans.

The results showed that the mice began behaving anxiously.

But it was not just the mice originally exposed to aspartame, it was also their children and their grandchildren that continued to display anxious behaviours.

However, when treated with diazepam, a drug marketed as Valium and used to treat anxiety in humans, their anxious behaviours disappeared.

Ms Sara Jones, the study’s first author, explained:

“It was such a robust anxiety-like trait that I don’t think any of us were anticipating we would see.

It was completely unexpected.

Usually you see subtle changes.”

The transgenerational effects of aspartame are striking, saidĀ Professor Pradeep Bhide, study co-author:

“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.”

TheĀ  study was inspired by previous research that found that nicotine had transgenerational effects on mice.

The negative effects of smoking have been found to carry on down the generations, causing asthma and chronic lung disease in people who never smoked.

Professor Bhide said:

“We were working on the effects of nicotine on the same type of model.

The father smokes.

What happened to the children?”

Aspartame has also been tentatively linked to depression, weight gain and behavioural problems in children.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Jones et al., 2022).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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