(NaturalNews) High consumption of sugary beverages may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study conducted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Researchers took mice that were genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer's-like symptoms as adults, and added a 10 percent sugar water solution to the diet of half of them. After 25 weeks, the mice fed the sugar water had gained 17 percent more weight than the other mice. Unlike the other mice, they had also developed insulin resistance and had higher cholesterol.
The researchers then gave all the mice tests of mental function and examined the composition of their brains. The mice that had been given sugar water scored lower on tests of learning and memory retention. In addition, they were found to have more than twice the amyloid plaque deposits of the mice on the normal diet.
Beta-amyloids are sticky proteins that form plaque deposits in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers said they could not be sure if the signs of Alzheimer's were due to the sugar water per se, or simply to the obesity and diabetes, which are known to be risk factors for the disease. But the results "highlight the potential risk of sugary beverages," they said.
The amount of sugar water given to the mice would translate to approximately five cans of soda per day in a human. "Although since mice have a higher metabolism, it may actually take less sugar intake in humans," the researchers noted.
A study published in 2006 also supports a connection between obesity and Alzheimer's, finding that the more overweight a person was, the higher their blood levels of beta-amyloids.
More than 14 million people worldwide are believed to suffer from Alzheimer's disease, with a total of 24 million suffering from some form of dementia.