According to a new study conducted at Oxford University, girls who drink a significant amount of sugary drinks are more prone to have a first menstrual cycle much earlier compared to those who seldom consume these types of drinks.

The study consisted of 5,000 girls from the United States ranging in ages from 9 to 14 who had not yet started their first menstrual cycle. Each of the girls were questioned about their diet, which included how often sugary beverages were consumed to include soda, as well as ice tea, fruit juice, and so on. For a period of five years, starting in 1996 and ending in 2001, the girls were tracked.

At the end of the study period, researchers discovered that of the girls who drank over 1.5 sugary drinks a day started their first menstrual cycle roughly three months earlier compared to the group of girls who drank only two or less drinks a week.

As stated by Karin Michels, study author and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, the information gathered from the study creates additional concerns over the consumption of drinks laden with sugar, specifically for younger children and teenagers.

The reason the findings of the study are so important is that girls in developed countries like the United States are starting to start menstrual cycles much earlier than any other time in history for reasons that experts have not been able to determine.

Several other factors were taken into consideration as part of this new study such as body mass index (BMI), height, total food intake, and level of activity. However, when looking at the effect of very specific beverages, researchers found a direct link to early first menstruation and sugary drinks.

Most people are aware that drinks loaded with sugar lead to problems of weight gain, which can easily develop into obesity that has been proven prior to have a connection with the early onset of menstruation. However, regarding a link between these drinks and early menstrual cycles BMI had little effect. As a result, it was concluded that there was something else was the cause.

During the study period, researchers identified that the consumption of certain foods, to include sugary drinks, increased blood sugar levels quickly, which in turn caused the levels of the hormone insulin to rise. Because of this, levels of sex hormones might also be affected, which would have an impact on menstruation.

Although the study uncovered some very interesting facts, experts are still unable to determine a cause and effect connection between early menstruation and sugary drinks. In other words, the reason that some girls drink sugary beverages more than others remains unknown.

The other thing that has not been determined is if starting a first menstrual cycle early has any long-lasting health effects. As stated by Dr. Joshua Yang, pediatric endocrinologist with the Florida-based Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, three months is not a significant amount of time in regards to any impact on health.

Researchers stated that girls who start their menstrual cycle one year earlier in age do have a 5% greater risk of developing breast cancer so while three months is not a lot of time, there could still be a modest risk for this type of cancer.

Yang added that at this time, there have not been any studies conducted that he is aware of that determine the chance of developing breast cancer in girls who start a menstrual cycle three months prematurely.