Girls who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) may menstruate earlier. Researchers conducted a prospective study of 5,583 girls aged 9-14, from 1996 to 2001. None of the girls had started their period when the study began; follow-up questionnaires were collected in 2003 and 2005. On average, girls reported having their first period (menarche) at13.1 years. Those who consumed more than 1.5 servings of SSBs daily experienced menarche 2.7 months earlier, vs. girls who consumed SSBs 2 or fewer times per week. No association was found between naturally sweetened beverages and early menarche. Body Mass Index, a strong predictor of early menarche, explained 9.2% of the association between SSBs and early menarche. Girls who consume more SSBs may have a different overall diet compared to non-consumers, so other foods and nutrients might also have an influence. Earlier menarche is a risk factor for breast cancer (a 1-year decrease in age of menarche may lead to a 5% increase in cancer risk); SSB consumption can be controlled, so reducing it might also reduce one’s cancer risk.
Human Reproduction, 2015
A new study suggests menopause may not be entirely responsible for women’s sleep problems. Researchers followed long-term sleeping patterns of 255 women participating in the Penn Ovarian Aging Study from 1996 to 2012. At enrollment, the women were aged 35 to 48 and pre-menopausal; 28% reported experiencing moderate-to-severe sleep disturbances, 56% reported having no sleep problems. Among women who initially reported they had no sleep problems, 25% reported moderate or severe sleep disturbances during the study. Women with mild sleep issues had a bigger increase in poor sleep as they aged, compared to women who were already experiencing moderate or severe sleep issues when the study began. Women who experienced trouble sleeping in their 30s and 40s were 3 times more likely to have trouble doing so during the menopausal transition, compared to women who slept well when they were younger. While hot flashes are strongly associated with poor sleep patterns, a “large proportion of poor sleep in menopausal women occurred without hot flashes.” Among women who experience poor sleep during menopause, other factors (i.e., health problems, anxiety, stress) may complicate getting a good night’s rest.
Want to avoid fractures as you get older? In addition to common-sense measures to reduce the risk of falling, women might also want to maintain their weight as they age. According to a study that followed more than 120,000 post-menopausal 50-to-79-year-old women for an average of 11 years, unintentional weight loss led to higher risk of hip and vertebral fractures. Women who lose 5% or more of their body weight without trying may have an underlying condition, like diabetes or cancer, and either the disease or treatment can weaken bones, and/or lead to falls. Women who intentionally tried to lose weight didn’t increase their hip fracture risk, but showed a higher risk of lower limb fracture. Researchers aren’t certain why this connection appeared. Women who gained weight were less likely to experience a hip fracture, possibly because of extra padding, but had increased risk of fracture in their limbs. Yet another reason to find a balance between food & activity and maintain a healthy weight!
BMJ, January 2015