The story of the man-breasts was not the first sign that an anti-Aspartame paranoia campaign was growing.
I must confess that my own dear mother recently expressed concern about the sweetener Aspartame, found in many diet sodas, after hearing the testimonials of some daytime talk show guests, who attributed their aches and pains to the substance. The show even inspired my mother to give up diet soda.
I had mixed feelings. Countless times before, the world has seen well-meaning but misguided activists attribute all of life's discomforts to some demonized chemical without much evidence beyond free association and worry (see our feature article "Cancer Clusters: Findings vs. Feelings" from 2/1/02). I didn't want my mother falling victim to junk science. On the other hand, I was pleased that something had inspired her to give up drinking soda, and I even bought my parents a teapot to help push the transformation along.
Really, what harm could an aversion to Aspartame do?
It has since been brought to my attention by ACSH advisor Dr. William London of the National Council Against Health Fraud that the anti-Aspartame campaign seems to be a plank of the broader war against genetically-modified foods and transnational agribusinesses such as Monsanto. Well, to be more direct: Dr. London sent me a link to a website featuring an article by an elderly gentleman who thinks his man-breasts were caused by Aspartame.
The human body gets a bit saggy and the hormones a bit out of whack in old age, but when 44DD anomalies strike a man, he is apt to seek some villain to blame. John Linnell (not, alas, the same John Linnell who is in the rock band They Might Be Giants, which would be a much better story) relates the following horrific tale with admirable humor: "On 1st December 1997 I was a normal male with average muscular chest. About noon my nipples and underlying breasts started to itch internally not a surface itch that you can have a good scratch at." Within weeks, recounts Linnell, his breasts were "about the size of a nursing mother, rubbing on my shirt and [causing] an aching feeling in my now much larger breasts."
Linnell soon resorted to wearing bras the site includes a striking photograph of the grim-faced Linnell in bra and baseball cap and he avoided foods with artificial sweeteners, since he discerned increased pain while eating desserts and drink, he claims. He even describes angrily confronting restaurant managers about his pain after they served him sweet desserts. He also describes mocking a flat-chested woman at a shopping mall, asking her, "What's the matter with you, honey? Jealous, maybe?"
It hasn't all been bad for Linnell, though. He describes striking up more frequent conversations with women, for instance, debating brands and sizes of bra. He also assures us that no unwanted homosexual feelings have accompanied his physical transformation and that he has not become a womanizer like his father, either.
Now, I'm moderately confident my mother won't be reduced to shouting at strangers in shopping malls, and she acknowledges that her Aspartame fears were not produced by good scientific evidence she says there's no harm in avoiding diet soda and just wants to see if she notices any difference. Still, Mr. Linnell's case is a reminder that leaping to conclusions can sometimes make one look a bit ridiculous or can reinforce other people's unscientific fears (or do both at the same time). If Aspartame is harmless and Mr. Linnell has simply picked a scapegoat for an unwelcome physical development, he may live out his days as an unnecessarily hateful, bitter, and paranoid man. Surely that is a loss for everyone involved such as those restaurant managers and a reminder that groundless fears have costs, despite the easy talk of "erring on the safe side."
February 4, 2002
I'm sure this is much too obvious...but if aspartame has this effect, why aren't the "women in the mall" rushing to overdose?
Suzanne H. Jones, RDH
February 5, 2002
Why should anybody believe American Council of Science and Health, a front group for industry. Look how you made out that the email on the World Environmental Conference was a hoax, and I'm the one who lectured there. See www.dorway.com/nomarkle.html as well as www.dorway.com So you lied. Could it be because you are funded by Coke, National Soft Drink Association, Searle, Monsanto, NutraSweet, etc.? The public is not stupid.
So nobody can take you seriously. In fact, now there is a new medical text on the global plague of Aspartame Disease recently reviewed in a journal as reading like the Adverse Reaction of the PHysicians Desk Reference. In this new medical text is a chapter on everything I lectured on including MS, lupus, fibromyalgia, male sexual dysfunction, brain tumors, seizures, birth defects, infertility, brain tumors and even drug interaction, as aspartame is a drug and interacts with just about every drug used to treat the problems it causes. Also a chapter on psychiatric and behavioral problems.
And since the conference there have been more and more studies proving these things we have been seeing triggered by this neurotoxin such as the study associating memory loss with aspartame, the one two weeks ago showing abstaining from aspartame makes symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome disappear. Then last month in Norway there was a study that showed aspartame completely destroys the brain, especially in the areas of learning accounting for the global epidemic of ADD in children.
You will also notice on www.dorway.com the note about class action.
You should be ashamed of yourself. Think about the world we leave to our grandchildren. Even the Trocho Study in l998 showed that aspartame damages DNA. So it can destroy the human race. It also is a chemical hypersensitization agent and react with vaccines so if they mandate Anthrax vaccine with 2/3rds of the population on aspartame you could have a country with symptoms of Desert Storm Syndrome, Lou Gehrig types of symptoms, neurodegenerative diseases and all kinds of birth defects.
Shame on you.
Betty Martini has been a source of many health scares over the years, and you can read more about her at Snopes2.com: