SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – There’s new evidence that even so-called “safe” amounts of sugar can cause serious health problems.

University of Utah researchers found when mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar — the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda pop daily  — females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce.

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WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee spoke with the study’s author, University of Utah biology professor Wayne Potts.

“We realize that because it’s toxic in mice doesn’t mean, absolutely, that it’s toxic in humans — but it’s likely,” Potts said.

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Sugar intake in the American diet has increased 50 percent since the 1970s, accompanied by a dramatic increase in metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

“It just becomes a measure of prudency to say, well,  most things that are toxic in humans are also toxic in mice, and here’s a new one,” Potts said. “And, so, if you want to be cautious about your health, I would say reducing your sugar intake is advisable.”

Potts says the National Research Council recommends that no more than 25 percent of calories should be from “added sugar,” which means you don’t count natural sugars found apples, potatoes or other nonprocessed food.

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The study was published online Tuesday in the journal, “Nature Communications.”