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Regularly consuming refined sugars may be even more damaging to your health than previously believed, according to a new study published in the recent issue of the journal Nature Communications.

According to the research, entitled “Human-relevant levels of added sugar consumption increase female mortality and lower male fitness in mice” those subjects who consumed 25 percent more sugar daily—the equivalent of three cans of soda—were twice as likely to die and make fewer babies than those who did not consume the extra sugar. For males, the subjects also showed a 25 percent decline in fertility rates and normal territorial behavior patterns compared with the subjects who did not consume the extra refined sugar.

“Despite [the excessive sugar consumption], the mice didn’t become obese or demonstrate significant metabolic symptoms. Those effects the researchers did see, however, were just as harmful to the mice’s health as being the inbred offspring of two cousins,” reports the Huffington Post.

While the study was conducted on mice and not human subjects, the research team says there are significant warnings for humans: “Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health,” said biology professor and lead author Wayne Potts in a statement. “I have reduced refined sugar intake and encouraged my family to do the same.”

The researchers noted the study’s results were only when the subjects consumed refined sugars, not those naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and other whole foods.

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Image: SimonQ