This no-calorie, artificial sweetener finds its way into our soft drinks and coffees daily. While the lure of a calorie-free sweetener is understandably appealing, its high-risk properties make calories feel like a boon. Aspartame consists of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Linked to the development of cancerous brain tumors, diabetes, birth defects, and even vision issues, aspartame's appearance on the market in the '80s caused much controversy. A 2006 study by the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF) in Bologna, Italy, concluded it was a carcinogen. However, according to the FDA, the study data made available by the ERF did not provide enough evidence to refute the FDA's conclusion that aspartame is safe. The 20-plus-year debate still wages on, as more tenuous links between illness and aspartame are unveiled.