Sugary Drinks May Lead to Early Periods, Increased Breast Cancer Risk

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Soda, iced tea and sweetened fruit juice may cause an increase in sex hormones. This may cause girls who frequently consume the beverage to reach puberty sooner.

A new study published in the Jan. 28, 2015, issue of the journal Human Reproduction found that girls who drank 1.5 servings of sugary beverages per day started menstruation earlier than girls who consumed two or fewer servings per week.

The study
The results were calculated using yearly Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaires from 1996-1998, which show the participant's cumulative sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. The girls self-reported their ages when they began menstrating. 

Research included results from 5,583 girls ages 9-14 gathered from 1996 to 2001. Those who consumed more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks (i.e., non-carbonated fruit drinks, iced tea and sugar-sweetened soda) per day were found to have their first periods 2.7 months before the girls who had two or fewer drinks per week.

Girls between ages 9 and 18.5 were about 24 percent more likely to start their period in the next month if they consumed 1.5 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per week than the girls consuming fewer sugary drinks.

According to EurekaAlert!, the sugary beverages have high glycemic indexes which rapidly increase the body's insulin concentration. This can cause an increase in sex hormones, which may lead to earlier menstruation.

Early menstruation and breast cancer
According to Cornell University, girls who have their first menstrual cycle early in life are more at risk for breast cancer. The disease is linked with a woman's exposure to estrogen. The more times a woman menstruates, the more her estrogen increases, and with it the potential for contracting breast cancer.

The study did not take into account each individual's  early childhood consumption of sugary beverages, height, total food intake or physical activity habits. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages have already been linked to obesity and diabetes. The researchers from the recent study hope that their findings add support to the public's efforts to reduce sugary drink consumption.

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