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Results from human studies suggest that sugar and sweetness can induce cravings that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs such as alcohol and nicotine.
Binge sucrose consumption also changes the structure of a certain type of neuron called medium spiny neurons in the nucleus accumbens shell, which plays an important role in motivation and goal-directed behaviors such as food and reward seeking.
One of the professors involved in the study said, “Like other drugs of abuse, withdrawal from chronic sucrose exposure can result in an imbalance in dopamine levels and be as difficult as going ‘cold turkey’ from them.”