Scientists at the University of Guelph in Canada carried out experiments on laboratory rats in order to determine the connection between high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) intake and the likelihood of suffering opioid addiction.

As part of the study, the research team set up bottles containing a water solution with HFCS in various cages. The animal models had unrestricted, round-the-clock access to the sweetened solution. The bottles were removed after about a month of voluntary drinking. The researchers observed that exposure to the HFCS solution had an impact on the animals’ neural and behavioral responses to oxycodone, a variety of opioid and an active ingredient that induces pharmacological effects such as analgesia, euphoria, and feelings of relaxation. According to the experts, these changes may relatively affect both drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviors.

The scientists observed that the high sugar diet inhibited the oxycodone-induced release of dopamine and therefore stymied the feelings of reward associated with the substance. This may then prompt the body into consuming higher doses of oxycodone. According to the research team, the results demonstrate that nutrition may play a central role in opioid response. Likewise, the findings suggest that preventing unhealthy diets may not only stem obesity but may also help combat environmental factors that spur opioid dependence, the experts stated.

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