Sugarfree Michael J. Fox
Sips Liquid Parkinsons

By Fintan Dunne

Michael J. Fox is still drinking the diet soda.
Many medical professionals and health activists loudly proclaim that aspartame sweetener in diet sodas causes symptoms that mimic, or accentuate Parkinson's disease. The first class-action lawsuits have already been filed. Michael is diagnosed with Parkinson's.
A prudent person might well have long ago eliminated the notorious additive from their diet. But, incredibly, Michael J. Fox seems to still be drinking the soda.
Before he appeared on last week's Oprah show, promoting his new book "Lucky Man," reporter Ann Oldenburg, for USA Today, interviewed him about his medical condition. She wrote:
"He just can't sit still. Will that glass of diet soda make it to his lips without spilling? It does."
Consider this: A man we all know and many love, sipping with trembling hands the very drink that may be slowly killing him. Unfortunately, this is not a scene from a movie. This is real life for Mr. Pepsi 1987.
Ironically, in the movie "Back to the Future," Michael J. Fox is taken back in time to a soda fountain shop in the early nineteen fifties.
Michael's character, Marty McFly, asks the man behind the counter for a diet soda: a "Pepsi Free." The man behind the counter replies: "Nothing is free in here but water." Then Fox asks for a "Tab" (another diet soda), and the man behind the counter states: "You don't get a tab until you order something."
That's what they call run-of-film product placement. By means of star endorsements and in-movie placements, soda corporates have been spectacularly effective in getting us all to swallow their artificially colored, artificially flavored water.
Michael also starred in "Apartment 10G," a 1987 Pepsi commercial with Gail O'Grady, of NYPD Blue, in which he risked life and limb running through rain, over car hoods, and through traffic to bring her a can of her favorite soda.
His love affair with the "free" goes back a long way. Michael Andrew Fox was born June 9 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Always diminutive, he longed to be taller. Michael read that eating made you grow, so he ate until he had gained 20lb in weight.
After early acting successes, he ended up in debt and selling off furniture to buy food. Michael felt he had to do something about his weight to improve his chances at casting sessions. He went on a crash diet. He stopped eating. From then on, the slimmed down star was a prime candidate for the diet sodas introduced around 1984.
When he appeared in the 1987 Pepsi commercial, their public relations people milked the star's endorsement for all it's worth. Michael spent countless hours clutching glasses of Pepsi, with his home refrigerator virtually patched into Pepsi's production line. Michael was reportedly soon an avid consumer of Diet Pepsi.
That exposure set him up for a curious medical phenomenon: addiction to the substance causing the damage. Every free can came at a terrible hidden price. As the soda fountain storekeeper in 'Back to the Future' puts it: "nothing is free -but the water."
Many doctors report improvement in chronic medical conditions when their patients avoid aspartame. However, the manufacturers, the US regulators and the Parkinson's research establishment dismiss these reports as anecdotal. They insist that "scientific evidence" shows aspartame is safe.
In truth, their "science" is often just pseudoscientific claptrap. Their latest wild goose chase is that Parkinson's may be linked to a virus. Even as Michael J. Fox currently tours the talk show circuit, the leading Canadian Parkinson's researcher, Dr. Donald Calne, is reportedly heralding a possible viral cause of Parkinson's.
His evidence? Three of Michael's costars on a situation comedy called "Leo and Me" have also developed Parkinson's disease. Dr. Calne, director of the Neurodegenerative Disorder Center at the University of British Columbia Hospital, theorizes that the four might have been exposed to a Parkinson's trigger virus in the air conditioning system on the show's production set.
Breathless and talk show hosts and fawning news reports reveal that four of the 125 people on the set of "Leo and Me" in 1976, are now diagnosed with Parkinson's -- compared to a national incidence of 1 in 300 people. Dr. Calne calculates the odds of such a cluster by chance at 1000 to 1.
Hold it right there! This data is statistical dross. This is EXACTLY the data clustering we would expect to find in a normal distribution of Parkinson's among groups of less than 300 people. There will always be isolated incidences where there are congruencies. Conversely there will be also be a large number of population sets of 300 where there is no incidence of Parkinson's whatsoever.
Surely the bell curve of a normal distribution is familiar to any student of Statistics 101. If the sample has only 125 people, you find precisely these variations. Only when the sample size is increased from hundreds -- to hundreds of thousands, does the data approach meaningfulness.
If Dr. Calne's pseudo-science is any indication, then Parkinson's research is out to lunch. The same establishment which passes off such meaningless speculation as science, has the nerve to dismiss the experience of doctors as anecdotal and the concerns of the public as "nonscientific." And, like Dr. Calne, they have control of the available research dollars.
Perhaps, after all, we had better carefully review the evidence so readily dismissed about the toxicity of aspartame.
The establishment view is that ingestion of aspartame produces levels of toxins are typically insignificantly low. The critics say that aspartame is significantly metabolized in the body to aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methyl alcohol.
Aspartic acid is excitotoxic, it excites neurons or brain cells to death --thus the link to Parkinson's. The methyl alcohol breaks down into formaldehyde, then formic acid. How dangerous are these toxins?
Consider fetal alcohol syndrome: it produces deformity and disability in infants who suffer maternal alcohol abuse. Yet, methyl alcohol is fifty times more potent than beverage alcohol. Formaldehyde is 5,000 times more potent. Critics say the combination is equivalent to ingesting deadly fire ant venom and embalming fluid - albeit in minuscule quantities.
Besides the direct effects of these toxins, there is evidence from research into Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases that toxin-induced accumulation of metals in the brain is a key disease mechanism.
Much research into Parkinson's in agricultural communities, has linked the disease with high exposure to pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Other research in mining communities has shown aluminum and manganese play a role in the degeneration. Besides it's direct effects, aspartame may well also speed the brain's uptake of these metals to toxic levels.
A significant minority of people are highly succeptible to these toxic effects. That's why this writer, as a matter of personal health safety, will not be drinking a possible metal chleator in a beverage stored inside an aluminum can. Do I feel lucky, punk? No, not that lucky.
But our public health safety regulators are feeling very lucky. All the while, a creeping epidemic of youthful neurological degeneration gathers pace.
Ms. Betty Martini of aspartame campaign group, Mission Possible International, does not mince words. In a statement on the Michael J. Fox controversy, she stated: "Aspartame is being used by 2/3rds of the population today and 40% of our children, and is a deadly neurotoxic drug. ...We are now taking case histories for class action starting with brain tumors, seizures, eye deterioration and blindness triggered by aspartame. An investigation could be the beginning of help for millions."
We fan's of Michael, Parkinson's sufferers and ordinary citizens are concerned that he may be unknowingly worsening his condition with diet sodas containing aspartame.
As signatories, we call on the Michael J. Fox Foundation to represent the interests of Parkinson's suffers -- without fear or favor of the vested interests in medical research and industry. We call for... Read On....
It is worth stating that a virus cannot be sued by poisoned consumers, and a virus cannot be hauled to a Congressional investigation. Therefore a Parkinson's virus will inevitably prove a far better candidate for scientific research dollars than aspartame.
The message for Michael is that aspartame is clearly not worth the risk to his health, and merits renewed review of it's public safety. Unfortunately the research foundation that bears Michael's name, has so far not even acknowledged the evidence sent to it by aspartame critics. has sponsored an online petition to alert Michael and his Parkinson's foundation to the role of aspartame. You can help send this important message to Michael. After all, a previous petition that was featured at prompted a response from Bill Gates' Microsoft.
Join the Quit the Soda Petition All email addresses confidential held by only.
© 2002

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