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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sugar Bingeing Similar to Substance Abuse

A new Princeton study demonstrates that sugar can be an addictive substance, wielding its power over the brains of lab animals in a manner similar to many drugs of abuse.
Science Daily brings more news from the world of empirical studies. Researchers studying rats for signs of sugar addiction had already been able to demonstrate two of three elements of addiction.
First there is a behavioral pattern of increased intake and then the same rats showed signs of withdrawal. In the current experiments Professor Bart Hoebel and his team in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute captured craving and relapse to complete the picture.

"If bingeing on sugar is really a form of addiction, there should be long-lasting effects in the brains of sugar addicts," Hoebel said. "Craving and relapse are critical components of addiction, and we have been able to demonstrate these behaviors in sugar-bingeing rats in a number of ways."
The findings eventually could have implications for the treatment of humans with eating disorders.
Hoebel has shown that rats eating large amounts of sugar when hungry, a phenomenon he describes as sugar-bingeing, undergo neurochemical changes in the brain that appear to mimic those produced by substances of abuse, including cocaine, morphine and nicotine. Sugar induces behavioral changes, too. "In certain models, sugar-bingeing causes long-lasting effects in the brain and increases the inclination to take other drugs of abuse, such as alcohol," Hoebel said.
Photo: Scotland

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