Sugar is Just as Addictive as Cocaine

Do you smoke or use drugs? The answer is probably no or at least you’re not willing to admit it since everyone knows drugs are bad for you! Multiple studies show that cocaine, morphine, and several other drugs are extremely addictive and harmful to the human body. But did you know that refined sugar has shown many similarities to these addictive drugs? According to a research study, refined sugar is far more addictive than cocaine, a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain.

This study was conducted on rats. The rats equally had a choice of accessibility between water with an intense calorie free sweeter called saccharin or intravenous cocaine. The result indicated 94% of the rats preferred the sweet taste of saccharin (Lenoir, et. al, 2007). The preference for saccharin was not attributable to its unnatural ability to induce sweetness without calories because the same preference was also observed with sucrose, a natural sugar. The study’s results indicated the rats favored the sweeten water compared to cocaine. Even the rats that were previously introduced to cocaine switched to the sweeten water.

The researchers speculate that the addictive potential of intense sweetness results from the hypersensitivity to sweet tastings. In today’s modern society, mammals including humans and rats, are not adapted to this sugar-rich foods. The brain receives super-normal stimulation of theses receptors due to the sweeteners and thus generates a super-normal reward signal within the brain. This stimulation can potentially nullify the body’s self-control mechanism and thus lead to addiction.

Citation: Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH (2007) Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE 2(8): e698. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000698

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