21 Jan Sugar Has The Potential To Be Addictive
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael Winterdahl PhD
Associate Professor in Neuroimaging,
Department of Nuclear Medicine and PET Center
Aarhus University, Denmark
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Opioids and dopamine mediate the rewarding effects of drugs. We aimed to determine whether the intake of palatable food could lead to changes in the brain similar to those triggered by addictive substances, so we studied the effects of repeated intermittent access to sugar on opioid and dopamine receptors in porcine brain using neuroimaging.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In a group of 7 minipigs, given access to sugar dissolved in water every day for 12 days, we found changes in the opioid and dopamine receptors throughout the reward circuit in the brain. We also found activation of the opioid system after the very first drink. These data suggest that sugar can affect brain reward mechanisms in ways similar to drugs of abuse.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our eating habits can influence our brain and behavior. The striking brain responses to sugar can be seen as a wake-up call to reevaluate what we feed ourselves and our children, especially while their brains are still developing.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We have shown that sugar has the potential to be addictive. In order to determine if it actually is addictive, we recommend studying behavioural changes in response to sugar intake to see if the psychological aspects related to human addiction are present. Potential effects of withdrawal on both brain and behaviour should also be evaluated.
Our team is grateful to the Aarhus University Research Foundation for supporting this work.
Sucrose intake lowers μ-opioid and dopamine D2/3 receptor availability in porcine brain. Michael Winterdahl, Ove Noer, Dariusz Orlowski, Anna C. Schacht, Steen Jakobsen, Aage K. O. Alstrup, Albert Gjedde & Anne M. Landau.
Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53430-9.
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