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“Safe” Levels of Sugar Can Still Be Toxic

Update Date: Aug 14, 2013 10:12 AM EDT

It is no surprise that sugar has constantly been categorized as an unhealthy source of food. Numerous studies have tied sugar intake to health conditions such as obesity and type two diabetes. Despite these studies, sugar, especially in beverages like soda, is still being consumed at a large rate. In a new study, researchers looked into the effects of sugar consumption in rats. They found that even safe levels of sugar could be toxic even if sugar does not lead to obesity or other health issues.

For this experiment, researchers from the University of Utah gave mice a diet that was composed of 25 percent sugar. This proportion was considered to be the equivalent to the diet composition of a healthy human adult who also drank three cans of soda each day. These levels of sugar for humans are considered to be safe. The researchers found that in mice, there were no symptoms of metabolic diseases. None of the mice experienced obesity or high blood pressure. However, the researchers noticed a change in behaviors. For male mice, they become 26 percent less territorial and ended up having 25 percent fewer babies.

"The [mice] are having fewer offspring because they are having a hard time competing, they're less effective at foraging and raising young. That is due to lots of perturbations across their physiology. Since most substances that are toxic in mice are also toxic in people, it's likely that those underlying physical problems that cause those mice to have increased mortality are at play in people," said the study author James Ruff of the University of Utah reported by TIME. "That doesn't mean that the read-out we are going to get in people is reduced mortality. But that underlying damage is likely to be there."

The researchers reasoned that sugar could affect people's biology without them realizing it since the majority of research into sugar is focused on obesity and weight gain. The study was published in Nature Communications

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