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Sugar, even at moderate levels, could be toxic to your health — or at least to your sex life.
Scientists at the University of Utah looked at how sugar affected mice and found that the mouse equivalent of just three sugary sodas a day had significant negative effects on life span and competition for mates. “That’s three sodas if the rest of your diet is pristine and sugar-free,” said lead author and biologist James S. Ruff. “And those are 12-ounce sodas, not double Big Gulps.”
Sugar-fed females died twice as quickly as control mice, which were fed the same number of calories. And sugar-fed males had trouble competing against the control males for mates. The study was published online by the journal Nature Communications.
For the rodents on the sweetened diet, sugar accounted for 25 percent of their total calorie intake. Up to a quarter of Americans consume that proportion of sugar as part of their diets. Previous studies that found harmful effects of sugar consumption tended to use unusually high amounts.
Potts and his team found that the sugar-fed rodents, which didn’t appear less healthy than the control animals, were “physiologically worse at doing things they need to do on a daily basis.”
Sugar-fed females — but not males — died off sooner than their healthier counterparts, possibly from being too worn out to handle the burdens of reproduction. For the sugar-fed males, meanwhile, reproductive efforts were hindered by their inability to hold down territory. A male mouse will typically control a designated area, defending it fiercely from short, intrusive forays by other males. A weakened male mouse will lose territory, along with female attention.