- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rats eating high levels of the natural sugar fructose
seem to age faster than other rats -- and the same could be true for people
who eat too much sweet junk food, Israeli researchers said on Monday.
- Fructose, found naturally in honey and
fruit, is used widely in foods ranging from soft drinks to yogurt. But
while its sweet taste is popular, the sugar could cause wrinkles and health
problems, the researchers said.
- Moshe Werman and Boaz Levi of the Technion-Israel
Institute of Technology fed large amounts of fructose to laboratory rats.
- Writing in the Journal of Nutrition,
they said the fructose-fed rats showed changes in the collagen in their
skin and bones.
- Collagen, a fibrous protein found in
connective tissue, bone and cartilage, basically holds the body together.
The loss of collagen is what causes sagging and deep wrinkles in older
people. The process affected, Werman's team said, is known as "cross-linking."
- "Too much cross-linking reduces
elasticity and makes the skin stiff and rigid, and these are the conditions
that encourage wrinkled skin," Werman said in a statement.
- He said the same could be true of people,
although this has not been shown.
- "Americans are eating more and more
processed foods such as carbonated drinks, baked goods, canned fruits,
jams and dairy products that contain fructose," Werman said.
- Other studies have shown that high fructose
intake can affect how the body handles glucose and increases insulin resistance
-- which can both be important measures of the tendency toward diabetes.
- The rats Werman worked with were fed
much more than the average adult person might eat in a day, which is standard
in such experiments.
- The rats were fed 12.5 grams of fructose
per kg (2.2 pounds) of weight every day for a year. To compare, a person
weighing 154 pounds (70 kg) who drinks a quart of cola consumes about 60
grams of fructose, or 0.8 grams per kg of body weight.