According to the latest study, young girls consuming high amounts of sugary drinks are likely to enter puberty earlier than others. The study was conducted by the researchers of the Harvard Medical School and it found association between the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by young girls and the ages at which they first get periods. Although the association needs some more research for confirmation, the finding is quite alarming. The study has been published in the journal Human Reproduction.
It has been observed that for the past 50 years, girls are getting periods at younger and younger ages. Till date scientists have been unable to explain the reason behind this but they have proven that girls who begin to menstruate at a younger age have higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
For the study, the researchers analyzed the results of another larger study which was carried out by the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, known as the ‘Growing Up Today’ study. The study was started in the year 1996 and it examined more than 17,000 children across the United States. Among them, 5,583 girls were examined carefully to analyze the trends in the development of young women. When they joined the study, these girls were between the ages 9 and 14 and had not started menstruating.
Between the years 1996 and 2001, the parents of these girls were asked to report how much sugary drinks the girls consumed per day. Results showed that the girls who consumed more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day entered puberty 2.7 months earlier than those who consumed fewer drinks. Earlier menstruation in the participants had no association with their body-mass-index (BMI), amount of exercise or calorie intake.
Consumption of high levels of sugar results in increased concentration of insulin in the body which in turn leads to increased release of sex hormones in the body. Frequent and large alterations of these levels are associated with the beginning of menstruation. However, considering the shortcomings of the study, the researchers also mentioned that more investigations are needed to prove this link.