Sugary drinks cause earlier periods in girls

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online
The negative metabolic effects of consuming sodas and other sugary drinks is well known, but a new study published in the journal Human Reproduction has found that girls who regularly consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier than other girls.
“Our study adds to increasing concern about the wide-spread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks among children and adolescents in the USA and elsewhere,” said study author Karin Michels, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. “The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar.”
“These findings are important in the context of earlier puberty onset among girls, which has been observed in developed countries and for which the reason is largely unknown,” Michels added.
In the study, scientists tracked nearly 5600 girls, ages 9 to 14 years old between 1996 and 2001 and learned that those who consumed greater than 1.5 servings of sugary beverages per day had their first period 2.7 months sooner than those who drank two or fewer sugary drinks a week. This effect was seen regardless of girls’ body mass index (BMI), height, overall food intake as well as other lifestyle factors such as physical exercise.
At the time of joining the study none of the girls had started their periods, and by the end all but 3 percent had started menstruation. The scientists used surveys to ask the female participants about their diet at many points in the study, including how many times they consumed a serving of various kinds of sugary drinks.
At all ages between 9 and 18.5 years, girls who documented consuming over 1.5 servings of sugary drinks each day were, on average, 24 percent more prone to have their first period in the next month in relation to girls drinking two or fewer servings a week, taking into consideration factors that could impact the age of first menstruation, such as BMI, ethnicity or height. The average age of the first period among girls drinking the most sugary drinks was 12.8 years, as opposed to 13 years for those consuming the lowest on average. Diet sodas and fruit juice were not linked with any shift in the age at which girls started their periods.
The scientists explained that drinks with added sugar have a greater glycemic index than naturally-sweetened beverages like fruit juices. These high-glycemic foods create a rapid raise in insulin concentrations in the body. Greater insulin concentrations in turn lead to greater concentrations of sex hormones, and large changes to the levels of these hormones going around in the body has been associated with periods commencing earlier.
Greater caffeine consumption has also been connected with earlier periods. However, the scientists learned that overall sugar or caffeine consumption did not explain the results that they saw, meaning the added sugar was to blame.
“Our findings provide further support for public health efforts to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks,” Michels concluded.
Drink less sugary drinks. Period.
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