Part 2: A Laundry List of Maladies
Analysis: First off, despite the attribution at the top (absent in some versions of the message), this text was not written by "Nancy Markle" whoever that may be. Its real author was one Betty Martini, who posted a host of similar messages to Usenet newsgroups in late 1995 and early 1996. The original email was penned in December 1995.For years Ms. Martini, who is not a physician but claims to have worked in the medical profession, has waged a single-minded battle against what she calls "the propaganda put out by industry and the FDA" regarding aspartame. To that end, she founded an organization called "Mission Possible International," represented on such Websites as http://www.dorway.com, which houses a vast archive of anti-aspartame literature.
Even if we credit Martini with good intentions, it's difficult to take this email seriously. Among other reasons, it blithely implicates aspartame as the cause of just about every malady and medical condition known to humankind. To recap the laundry list:
• "The methanol toxicity mimics multiple sclerosis..."
• "In the cases of systemic lupus, which is triggered by ASPARTAME, the victim usually does not know that the aspartame is the culprit."
• "If you...suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, vertigo, dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, joint pain, depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, or memory loss-you probably have ASPARTAME DISEASE!"
• "In one lecture attended by the Ambassador of Uganda, he told us that their sugar industry is adding aspartame! He continued by saying that one of the industry leader's son could no longer walk - due in part by product usage!"
• "At the time of this first hearing, people were going blind. The methanol in the aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the retina of the eye."
• "Aspartame changes the brain's chemistry. It is the reason for severe seizures."
• "This drug also causes Birth Defects."
• "It makes you crave carbohydrates and will make you FAT."
• "The ingredients stimulates [sic] the neurons of the brain to death, causing brain damage of varying degrees."
• "Aspartame is especially deadly for diabetics."
• "...aspartame poisoning is escalating Alzheimer's Disease..."
• "...the phenylalanine in aspartame breaks down the seizure threshold and depletes serotonin, which causes manic depression, panic attacks, rage and violence...
• "Aspartame Disease is partially the cause to what is behind some of the mystery of the Dessert [sic] Storm health problems."
• "When they remove brain tumors, they have found high levels of aspartame in them."
That's a dizzying array of charges, to which it's reasonable to respond: if it's all provable, why isn't the entire medical establishment up in arms about it? Why does the substance continue to have the FDA's approval? Why do reputable scientists and doctors scoff?
Martini's pat answer, as I mentioned above, comes in the form of a conspiracy theory: the NutraSweet Company has used its deep pockets to buy all but a very few brave critics off. In other words, the only sources you can trust, and that includes doctors and scientists, are those approved by Martini.