Food and Behaviour Research

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05 January 2015 - MedicalXpress - Fructose more toxic than table sugar

When University of Utah biologists fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what many people eat, the fructose-glucose mixture found in high-fructose corn syrup was more toxic than sucrose or table sugar, reducing both the reproduction and lifespan of female rodents.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

The toxicity of fructose has been discussed by Professor Robert Lustig at our FAB research conferences in 2013 and 2014.

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See also some exclusive brief interviews with our speakers that you can view on the open access FAB Research YouTube Channel:

Professor Robert Lustig MD

When University of Utah biologists fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what many people eat, the fructose-glucose mixture found in high-fructose corn syrup was more toxic than sucrose or table sugar, reducing both the reproduction and lifespan of female rodents.

"This is the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses," says biology professor Wayne Potts, senior author of a new study scheduled for publication in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

The study found no differences in survival, reproduction or territoriality of male mice on the high-fructose and sucrose diets. The researchers say that may be because both sugars are equally toxic to male mice.

James Ruff, the study's first author and a postdoctoral fellow in biology, says, "Our previous work and plenty of other studies have shown that added sugar in general is bad for your health. So first, reduce added sugar across the board. Then worry about the type of sugar, and decrease consumption of products with high-fructose corn syrup."

The new study is the latest in a series that used a new, sensitive toxicity test developed by Potts and colleagues. It allows house mice to compete in the seminatural environment of room-size "mouse barns."

Previous mouse studies with the test found harmful effects of inbreeding, the antidepressant Paxil and, last year, an added-sugar diet with fructose and glucose in amounts proportional to a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily. These health effects had been missed by conventional tests.

Both high-fructose corn syrup found in many processed foods and table sugar found in baked goods contain roughly equal amounts of fructose and glucose. But in corn syrup, they are separate molecules, called monosaccharides. In contrast, sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide compound formed when fructose and glucose bond chemically.

Potts says the debate over the relative dangers of fructose and sucrose is important "because when the diabetes-obesity-metabolic syndrome epidemics started in the mid-1970s, they corresponded with both a general increase in consumption of added sugar and the switchover from sucrose being the main added sugar in the American diet to high-fructose corn syrup making up half our sugar intake."