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Red meat intake linked to early periods, increases breast cancer risk

Girls consuming red meat are likely to get their periods earlier than those who do not, according to a new study.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 10, 2016 13:06 IST
Red meat intake,Early periods,Menstrual cycle in girls
There was a difference of at least five months in the onset of puberty in girls who consumed red meat as against those who didn’t. Though it may not sound like a lot but is significant as it is associated with the risk of disease later in life.(Shutterstock)

A study conducted at the University of Michigan in the US found that girls who consumed more red meat saw an early onset of puberty which is often associated with risks of breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and Type-2 diabetes.

The study, offering fresh insights into how dietary habits affect the onset of menstrual cycles, found that girls who eat red meat more often, start their periods on an average five months earlier that those who do not.

Conversely, girls who consume fatty fish like tuna and sardines more than once a week have their first menstrual cycle, or menarche, significantly later than those who eat it once a month or less, the study said.

Read: Stay away from red meat, sweets to avoid cognitive decline

“It is significant because few dietary factors are known to affect the timing of puberty. This finding may also contribute to explain why red meat intake early in life is related to increased risk of breast cancer later in life,” study first author Erica Jansen from University of Michigan in the US said in an official statement.

For the study, the researchers measured the usual diet of 456 girls five-to-12 years old in Bogota, Colombia, before they had started menstruating.

The girls were then followed for just under six years. During this time, they were asked whether they had their first period.

Read: Avoid processed red meat, failure-proof your heart

Red meat consumed by the girls ranged from less than four times a week to twice a day.

The girls who ate the most red meat started their periods at a median age of 12 years three months, whereas those who ate it less frequently started at 12 years 8 months.

Read: Processed meat can cause cancer, says WHO

Those who ate fatty fish most frequently began at 12 years six months.

Five months may not sound like a lot but it is a significant number when talking about a population study, the researchers said.

“It is an important difference because it is associated with the risk of disease later in life,” Jansen noted.

First Published: Mar 10, 2016 13:05 IST