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- MayoClinic.com: Artificial Sweeteners: Understanding These and Other Sugar Substitutes
- MayoClinic.com: Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Diet Soda: Is It Bad for You?
- MayoClinic.com: Hair Loss
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You might think you're doing yourself a favor by drinking Diet Coke as opposed to regular. While diet soda may contain fewer calories, it contains aspartame, a controversial artificial sweetener that may be toxic and hazardous to your health. Aspartame consumption has been linked to many unpleasant side effects, including hair loss 2.
Aspartame has a controversial history. In 1974, the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, approved aspartame in carbonated beverages. The FDA then rescinded its approval in 1975 due to questionable studies involving aspartame. In 1981, three of six FDA scientists formally advised against aspartame approval. Acting FDA Commissioner Mark Novitch, M.D., approved aspartame in carbonated beverages in 1983. Dr. Janet Starr Hull, a counselor for aspartame victims, feels that because the diet industry is worth trillions of dollars, there may be reason to keep the dangers of aspartame hidden from the public 1. However, in recent years, the Centers for Disease and Control and other organizations have brought the risks of aspartame to the public's attention.
Out of all of the consumer complaints the FDA receives in a year, about 80 percent are related to adverse reactions from aspartame, according to the Healthy Holistic Living website 2. The FDA compiled a list of 92 symptoms associated with aspartame use, some of which include:
- anxiety attacks
- memory loss,
Among the many symptoms reported, hair loss, baldness and thinning of the hair are also listed.
Exactly why or how aspartame causes hair loss is not clear. More research is needed. Many aspartame victims comment on Dr. Hull's website forum regarding their specific hair loss experience. Many victims have discovered the correlation between aspartame and hair loss unintentionally. While drinking a considerable amount of diet soda, hair loss symptoms began or worsened. When victims cut back or quit completely, they said their hair loss symptoms stopped or improved. Dr. Hull feels that the methanol in aspartame is damaging to healthy hair growth. She feels that if you discontinue the consumption of all aspartame-containing products, you should see improvements in six weeks.
The obvious solution to your hair loss problem is to stop drinking diet soda and avoid other aspartame-containing products. You may also want to consider hair loss treatments. Over-the-counter minoxidil, or Rogaine, promotes new hair growth and prevents further hair loss in a small percentage of people, according to MayoClinic.com 5. Eat a balanced diet that includes sufficient protein and iron, which are important for healthy hair.
Not everyone is convinced that aspartame is dangerous. MayoClinic.com says that numerous studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities 35. According to the National Cancer Institute and other health agencies, there is no evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or other serious health problems. MayoClinic.com does however, point out that several studies suggest that drinking more than one soda a day -- regular or diet -- increases your risk of obesity and related health problems such as type 2 diabetes 5. Although more research is needed regarding aspartame's role in hair loss, because of the additional healths risk associated with drinking diet soda, you may want to consider drinking it in moderation, if at all.
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