Sweetened Drinks Affects Puberty In Girls


3/17/2015 11:40:02 AM
written By : Nithya Subramanian Print

Consumption of sweetened drinks are said to cause obesity, hyperactivity and dental cavities amongst children – but a new report has now linked it to early puberty in girls.

New research from the Harvard Medical School in the journal Human Reproduction said that drinking half-a-litre a day of cola, lemonade, iced tea or other sugar-sweetened drinks cause early puberty and increases breast cancer risks in girls by 5 per cent for each year they mature earlier.

The study, which followed 5,583 girls aged 9 to 14, found those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who drank two or fewer drinks a week. Girls who drank a lot of sugary drinks also tended to exercise less, eat more fats and carbohydrates and less proteins, but the researchers say that the association remained even after they controlled for these factors. It also held irrespective of their weight and body size (obesity is an established risk for early puberty).

Karin Michels, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, who led the research, said: “ The main concern is about childhood obesity, but our study suggests that age of first menstruation (menarche) occurred earlier, independently of body mass index, among girls with the highest consumption of drinks sweetened with added sugar. These findings are important in the context of earlier puberty onset among girls, which has been observed in developed countries and for which the reason is largely unknown.”

Added sugar spikes insulin levels in the blood, which over time makes tissues less sensitive to insulin and affects how the body converts sugar into energy. Scientists have still not identified the mechanics of how exactly this causes early puberty, but clinical trials show that the diabetes drug metformin, which helps the body regulate insulin, reverses early puberty. 

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