A study out of Harvard shows that girls who consume lots of sugary drinks may enter puberty earlier than those that don’t.
According to CBS, this study in question followed 5,600 girls aged 9 to 14. These girls were tracked from 1996 to 2001, and researchers 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 drank two or fewer of these drinks a week. While this can be attributed to many factors, this finding centered on drink consumption as the data was independent of body mass index, exercise and diet.
The results of this study are important because early periods can lead to complications later in life, such as breast cancer and adolescent depression. Girls who consumed the lease amount of soda started their period around 13 years of age, while the average age at the first period among girls who consumed the most sugary drinks was 12.8. While sugary drinks have been linked to weight gain, the exact reason they cause earlier menstruation is unclear.
However, drinks with added sugar do have a higher glycemic index than naturally sweetened drinks such as fruit juices. This glycemic index can lead to an increase in sex hormones, which have been linked to earlier periods. Despite the effects from soda, researchers noted that fruit juices and diet sodas had no effect on what age the girls entered puberty. As such, this study, while showing an association with soda and early menstruation, does not prove a direct link between it and sugary drinks. Even so, researcher caution against large amounts of soda intake, regardless of age.