Washington : Girls who frequently consume sugary drinks tend to start their menstrual periods earlier, which can put them at an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life, a new study suggests, reports PTI.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues followed 5,583 girls, aged 9-14 years between 1996 and 2001. They found that those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who consumed two or fewer such drinks a week.
This effect was independent of the girls’ body mass index (BMI), height, total food intake and other lifestyle factors. “Our findings suggest that frequent consumption of SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] may be associated with earlier menarche,” researchers said.
“A one-year decrease in age at menarche is estimated to increase the risk of breast cancer by 5 per cent thus, a 2.7 month-decrease in age at menarche likely has a modest impact on breast cancer risk,” researchers said in the study published in the journal Human Reproduction.
“The amount of SSBs consumed by girls in our highest category of consumption, more than 1.5 servings per day, however, is likely low compared with consumption in certain other populations, in which we would expect an even more dramatic decrease in age at menarche.
“Most importantly, the public health significance of SSB consumption at age at menarche, and possibly breast cancer, should not be over-looked, since, unlike most other predictors of menarche, SSB consumption can be modified,” they said.