I read this worrying research this morning highlighting that girls who frequently consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier than girls who do not.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School followed just over 5,500 girls aged between 1996 and 2001 found that those who drank 1 ½ servings of sugary drinks daily started their periods earlier than those who consumed two or fewer drinks a week.

Professor Karin Michels said the study added to the increasing concern about the problem of increasing childhood obesity but also because of the added risk of earlier onset periods and a higher risk of breast cancer later in life.

A one year decrease in age at the onset of periods is estimated to increase the risk of breast cancer by 5% and this study showed that by drinking more than 1 ½ servings of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) the onset is brought forward by 2.7 months. The concern is that many girls are drinking much more than the serving amount identified in the study.

The drinks included such as colas and other ‘fizzy’ drinks which were sweetened with a variety of sugars including sucrose, glucose, corn syrups etc. The researchers also looked into the effect of other drinks including ‘diet sodas’ and fruit juices to assess the impact of artificially or naturally sweetened drinks concluding that they were not associated with any difference in the age at which the girls started their periods.

However it should be noted that all high Glycaemic Index food and drinks result in a rapid rise of the hormone insulin resulting in higher concentrations of sex hormones which have been linked to the onset of earlier periods.

Professor Michels concluded: “Our findings provide further support for public health efforts to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks”.

J.L. Carwile et al. Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and age at menarche in a prospective study of US girls. Human Reproduction, 2015 DOI:10.1093/humrep/deu349