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  (Source: Times of India)
Now we can finally acknowledge we have a cocoa problem

Perhaps it's time to add chocolate alongside alcohol and tobacco to the lists of legal drugs in America.

A new study by University of Michigan neuroscience student Alexandra DiFeliceantonio chronicles how chocolate locks the rodent brain into a cycle of addiction, joy, and despair, much like other drugs.

She found that during consumption of M&Ms rats produced a naturally occurring (endogenous) opioid-receptor binding compound called enkephalin.  The compound binds to similar reward circuitry as notoriously addictive drugs such as a heroine and morphine.  The enkephalin levels primarily spiked in an inner region of the brain called the neostriatum.

Why is this important?  She explains that this region of the brain is linked to addiction in humans, commenting, "The same brain area we tested here is active when obese people see foods and when drug addicts see drug scenes.  It seems likely that our enkephalin findings in rats mean that this neurotransmitter may drive some forms of overconsumption and addiction in people."

Natural genetic variation may lead some people to become more severely addicted to chocolate than others, too, the study indicates.  When dosed with extra enkephalin -- similar to the case of a genetic-based overproduction -- the rodents gobbled down twice as many M&Ms, throwing reserve to the wind.

Rat w/ M&M
Rats show signs of chemical addiction when fed chocolate. [Image Source: Alexandra DiFeliceantonio]

In the human brain, enkephalins have been linked to risky behavior and thoughts of desire.

She writes in the study that the chocolate-triggered compound may be responsible for "generating intense pathological levels of motivation to overconsume."  In other words, maybe that's why you couldn't stop yourself at half your chocolate candy bar or put down that jumbo-sized bag of peanut M&Ms after the suggested serving was consumed.

Chocolate circuitry
Chocolate triggers opioid pathways in the rodent brain. [Image Source: Current Biology]

While some may take news of their chocolate addiction quite badly, Ms. DiFeliceantonio suggests that by better understanding its addictive role on neurochemicals researchers can help people break self-destructive "systems" of overconsumption that exist in the brain.

The new research is published [abstract] in the peer-reviewed journal Current Biology.

Sources: U of M [via Eurekalert], Current Biology



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Not chocolate
By TSS on 9/25/2012 4:31:34 PM , Rating: 2
If you think chocolate is addictive, go buy one of those bars which are 70% pure chocolate. I dare you to eat the entire bar at once. I really like chocolate, and i can't even eat more then 2 blocks at a time, usually per day. It's definitly an aquired taste.

It's no suprise that high-sugar chocolate is addictive. It's probably the sugar component. Or in the US case, the corn syrup.

That chocolate is a drug, Duh. So is coffee and tea. Personally i've always got a bag of kit-kat's lying around for when i want a snack or when i just feel a little down. The chocolate+sugar mix gives me a nice small rush and makes me feel a little better.

And there's nothing wrong with that, because it's not like i stuff my face with them. I can even eat 2 at a time if i want because i know i won't eat more then 4-5 a day. I'm a skinny guy, i should probably eat double just to gain some weight. There are days i don't eat any at all cause i don't desire a snack.

Yknow there was a time where this was simply called "living". It's not that i need chocolate to feel good. It's just that if i'd only eat fruits and vegitables, i'd be horribly depressed.




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