Quickies: Aspartame, STD testing via phone, and a musical about the first woman to design an airplane


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. “To do so, you’d have to consume 97 aspartame sugar packets or more than 17 cans of diet soda in less than 24 hours.”

    The article says this, but I got the impression from the video that you would have to do this, not once, but every day, indefinitely, as part of your normal diet.

    1. That’s right. At least, if the worry is high phenylalanine levels. (I am at work right now and can’t watch the video.) But high phenylalanine levels are dangerous only over extended exposure times.

  2. 17 cans sounds like a lot but a can is not a standard unit so it depends how big they are. If they are 350 ml then that’s about 6 liters. On a hot summer day it is easy to consume 3 liters or more of soda so I hope that FDA cutoff is accurate within a factor of 2!

    Be that as it may, drinking that amount of soda has demonstrably caused me health problems.

    The sweetener was sugar.

  3. That aspartame article is terrible: “Some studies have shown that aspartame-made phenylalanine isn’t seeping into our brains and causing depression.”

    Unless you have PKU.

    “Moreover, the video says recent studies debunk the idea that some people are hypersensitive to aspartame or that it causes cognitive impairments.”

    This is the WORST. Yes, absolutely, aspartame will cause cognitive impairments in people with PKU. Bad information. This is embarrassing for PBS.

  4. People with PKU know they can’t have aspartame. But they have enough problems with people not understanding their dietary restrictions as it is. They don’t need articles like this convincing people that they’re making it this one up. It’s hard enough as it is to convince people that this is a real disease and the the restrictions are for real, not just some “juice cleanse” kind of fad.

    1. Look, I would agree with you except that the article is only a very quick summary and introduction to the video – in which PKU is specifically mentioned. It is also clear from the video that the statements you have quoted refer to the 99+% of people without PKU.

  5. My own criticism of the video would be not so much the content but rather the ultra annoying rapid-fire staccato delivery characteristic of young doctors trying to impress.

    Those with deep knowledge and experience who have nothing to prove are much more effective because they speak in measured tones and stick to the main point.

  6. To be honest, I have sometimes probably had 17 cans of diet soda in 24 hours, but not on a regular basis. My intake is still on the high end though, and I don’t believe I have suffered any effects other than continuing to really love Diet Pepsi.

    Pepsi is getting rid of my beloved formula soon though, due to unscientific pressure over aspartame. I’m pretty mad about it. But we’ll see if maybe this third eye will go away.

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