Researchers at the University of Utah found that when mice were fed a diet where 25% of the calories came from added sugar, the mortality rate of female mice doubled.
Let’s consider the equivalent amount of added sugar in our own diets. “Added sugar” means sugar that comes from processed foods, not sugar that is naturally in non-processed foods like fruit. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to add those calories- for a person who normally eats a healthy diet, it is the equivalent of adding three cans of sweetened soda a day. Approximately 13-25% of Americans currently consume a diet with at least 25% added sugar.
The mouse experiments lasted for about 8 months, and 35% of the female mice on sugar-added diets died during that time, in comparison to 17% of the female control mice. (The average mouse lifespan is about two years.) While males on sugar-added diets did not show an increase in mortality rates, they were less dominant and produced 25% fewer offspring than males on the control diet.
As more tests are developed to understand the impact of potential toxins in our food and environment, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of the chemicals and additives we encounter every day are scrutinized further. In the meanwhile, limiting extra sugar might not be a bad idea… just saying.
Mice infected with Toxoplasma gondii (a parasite found in cat feces that is especially dangerous to pregnant women) lose their fear of cats- researchers have known that for years. But new research suggests that the loss of fear of cats is a permanent behavioral change for these mice, even after the parasite is completely out of their systems.
It’s an amusing image that comes to mind- mice, unafraid of cats?
But on a serious note, this discovery has more important implications than the possibility of a dramatic reduction in the mouse population. By proving that there are permanent changes to the disposition of the mouse, even after the parasite infection is long gone, it raises the question as to whether or not this is an isolated phenomenon. If you go to the doctor and take a medication to rid yourself of an illness, even if you believe you are fully recovered, are there lingering effects that you might not know about?
Thanks to the mice for a heads-up… I think more research is warranted on this one!