Girls who drink fizzy drinks are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.
Research by the Harvard Medical School found that young girls who drink one-and-a half cans of fizzy drinks per day start their periods earlier – which increases cancer risk.
The US study of 5,583 girls aged nine to 14 found a link between the amount of added sugar the participants consumed in fizzy drinks and their start date of puberty.
It found that girls who consumed 1.5 or more servings of fizzy drinks per day started their periods nearly three months earlier than those who drank two servings or less of sugary drinks per week.
Drinks with added sugar have been found to increase the body’s insulin concentration, which in turn ups the amount of sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) in girls, according to the Telegraph.
And for each year the girls start puberty earlier, their risk of breast cancer increases by five per cent, according to the study published in Human Reproduction.
"Our study adds to increasing concern about the widespread consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks among children and adolescents,” said Associate Professor Karin Michels.
"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.”
The study is significant because early periods have typically been associated with girls in developed countries.
"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,” said Professor Michels.
"Our findings suggest that frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may be associated with earlier menarche."
She stressed the research should not be ignored because added sugar in fizzy drinks is something that can be changed to decrease the young women’s risk.
"Most importantly, the public health significance of sugar-sweetened beverages consumption at age at menarche, and possibly breast cancer, should not be overlooked, since, unlike most other predictors of menarche, sugar-sweetened beverages consumption can be modified,” she said.