Young girls who drink lots of sugary beverages—such as soda and other drinks with added sugar—may start their first menstrual periods earlier than girls who consume fewer such drinks, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study, published online in Human Reproduction, looked at more than 5,500 U.S. girls aged 9 to 14 who had not yet begun their periods and followed them over time. The researchers found that girls who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks each day began their periods nearly three months earlier than those who drank two or fewer such drinks each week. No link was found between earlier menstruation and drinks without added sugar, such as fruit juices.
Earlier menstruation has been previously linked with increased breast cancer risk.
Lead author Karin Michels, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, said the link between sugary drinks and increased breast cancer risk was independent of the known association between obesity and the disease. “Our findings are robust and not dependent on body mass index,” she said in a January 27, 2015 New York Times article. “Sugared beverages are not healthy to begin with, and there should be heightened attention to avoiding them.”
Read the New York Times article: Sugary drinks tied to earlier menstruation
Regular consumption of sugary beverages linked to increased genetic risk of obesity (Harvard Chan release)
Sugary Drinks (The Nutrition Source)