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[News] High meat diet 'linked to early periods'

From BBC News:

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Girls who eat a lot of meat during childhood tend to start their periods earlier than others, a study suggests.

UK researchers compared the diets of more than 3,000 12-year-old girls. They found high meat consumption at age three (over eight portions a week) and age seven (12 portions) was strongly linked with early periods. Writing in Public Health Nutrition, the researchers said a meat-rich diet might prepare the body for pregnancy, triggering an earlier puberty.

During the 20th Century, the average age at which girls started their periods fell fairly dramatically, although it now seems to be levelling off. This is widely thought to be due to better nutrition and rising levels of obesity, which has an impact on hormones.

In the latest study, the team used data from a group of children followed from birth. At the age of 12 years eight months, they split the girls into those who had already started their periods and those who had not.

Comparing their diets at the ages of three, seven and 10, they found that meat intake at a young age was strongly linked with earlier periods. In fact, at age seven there was a 75% increased chance of having a period by age 12 in those eating the most meat compared with those who ate the least. Although this finding was independent of body weight, the study repeated previous research showing that bigger girls tend to menstruate early.

Starting periods at an early age has been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer, possibly because women are exposed to higher levels of oestrogen over their lifetime.

Rest of the article @ BBC

I wonder if anyone has done a long term study of the health of vegans, in terms of cancer rates, general sickness, mental acuity, and lifespan, compared to the general population.

i'm going to print this out and let my daughter read it

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I was an early starter. I ate a lot of chicken nuggets before age 8. Then I stopped caring for the taste. I wonder if meat type is relevant. I never ate a lot of red meat. 

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that's a really interesting article--I'm gonna have to look farther into it, and read some more stuff. I come from a family that was very more-meat, less-potatoes, (midwestern, if you're wondering)  so maybe that's the reason that I started at age 11 (late 11, though, as it might have something to do with body weight, I was chubby around that time). I remember someone writing an article several years ago about milk (cow's milk) and how there was something in it that promoted early periods in young girls, too--something about growth hormones they fed to cows came through, or something. I remember they interviewed a lot of 9 year old girls who had their periods already.
I gotta look that stuff up again. Thanks for the news article!

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I wonder if anyone has done a long term study of the health of vegans, in terms of cancer rates, general sickness, mental acuity, and lifespan, compared to the general population.

I'm sure has been done but the mainstream is so focused on meat consumption/production, the research has probably been swept under the rug.

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While I like that this article might convince some people to reduce their meaty meals it would be more accurate if they gave more info. Girls who begin their periods later have low levels of body fat and other than some unusual cases girls weigh at least 100 pounds before having their first period. There is a theory that hormones in food cause early puberty but there is also the theory that hormones cause weight gain, which causes early puberty. Neither of these theories have been proven.  (information taken from Berger, The Developing Person)
I think it would be interesting to find out the effect of these hormones on male puberty as well. My personal belief, based on what I've read, is that any diet resulting in weight gain (which could certainly include high meat consumption, but also refined, processed foods/sugars) would lead to early puberty since weight/hormones and the timed release of certain hormones are crucial facilitators in puberty.

By the way, how much do you hate the word puberty? It always makes me feel like I'm back in middle school watching "The Movie". Why haven't we come up with a more pleasant name? :D

edit: Wow I'm blind. I totally missed where they talk about hormones and obesity and "bigger girls" getting their periods earlier.

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By the way, how much do you hate the word puberty? It always makes me feel like I'm back in middle school watching "The Movie". Why haven't we come up with a more pleasant name? :D

Human Growth and Development was my favorite time of the year from grades 4-7.  I didn't know what to expect going into it in fourth grade, which is why I got kicked out of class because I couldn't stop giggling every time my super serious male teacher said "breasts" and pointed them out on the projector.  From then on, I couldn't wait for that one week a year in which we got two free pads the size of adult diapers.  I loved watching people squirm when called on in class.  I had to say "vas deferens" a lot over the years.  If we have to change "puberty" because of its cringe-worthiness, we'd also have to change "scrotum" and...basically everything else.  I wouldn't want to deprive future generations of this hilarious and/or mortifying time.

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Campbell's  book "The China Study" discusses a similar study.  I don't remember the exact details - but basically meat/dairy consuming American girls start their periods at age 11.  The comparative group that ate little meat/dairy average age of 1st period was 17.  He then went into the health problems associated with early menstruation.  Of all the info he touched on in his book, this shocked me the most. 

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Campbell's  book "The China Study" discusses a similar study.  I don't remember the exact details - but basically meat/dairy consuming American girls start their periods at age 11.  The comparative group that ate little meat/dairy average age of 1st period was 17.  He then went into the health problems associated with early menstruation.  Of all the info he touched on in his book, this shocked me the most. 

yeah, I remember that. There was also something about the less-meat group having periods less often (~ 5 weeks) and going through menopause earlier.

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Do meat-less individuals have easier menopauses? Because in the US, menopause is this feared, traumatic event that requires faux hormones and loss of sleep and near death (I'm being dramatic, but I've heard people talking, and I'm not stretching). It seems like that could be an easier transition in a healthier individual.

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yeah, it's supposed to be not as severe (same for PMS) because the drop in estrogen is not as sharp (estrogen levels/peaks are higher in meat-eating individuals). I'm sure it depends on the person, though, as well as other parts of the diet.

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yeah, it's supposed to be not as severe (same for PMS) because the drop in estrogen is not as sharp (estrogen levels/peaks are higher in meat-eating individuals). I'm sure it depends on the person, though, as well as other parts of the diet.

I can attest to that.  I never had horrible PMS, but I had backaches, mood changes, etc..  I've been vegetarian a long time, but since I stopped eating dairy - PMS does not exist for me.  I can't help but wonder how many other things may have been different if I was vegan from birth.

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Do meat-less individuals have easier menopauses? Because in the US, menopause is this feared, traumatic event that requires faux hormones and loss of sleep and near death (I'm being dramatic, but I've heard people talking, and I'm not stretching). It seems like that could be an easier transition in a healthier individual.

From what I have seen in the health science journals, menopause is not as severe, but it comes - on average - earlier for vegans because of an average lower body weight and thus less menopause delaying stored hormones in fat.

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I also need to print this out I also started mine at age 11 i was in karate class how sad :( but good think i recently stopped eating meat and other fatty foods :)

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I wonder if weight has more to do with it then diet?  I also grew up on a mid-western diet, heavy on meat and dairy.  But I was super duper thin, very  high metabolism and I started my period at 13.  

17?  Really?  That seems really late to me, abnormally late!

I actually think I am beginning to go through menopause now, perimenopause, and I am  only 32!  My periods are regular, but the flow isn't. One month will be very light, the next month it will be very heavy and last almost two weeks.  Wierd.  But when I had my son, it seemed like somebody replaced my body with somebody else's.  I got poison ivy for the first time two weeks ago!!!  I have never been allergic to ANYTHING before, and  poison ivy really sucks!  I also got otosclerosis too, which sucks!  Ugh...

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This is interesting.  I've always thought I was a bit of an anomaly.  I started about a week before I turned 11.  I was in 5th grade with my white softball shorts on, of course.  Traumatic to say the least.  Anyway, we didn't eat a lot of meat and I only weighed about 85-90 lbs. However, I was 5'3 and grew nearly 9 inches from 4th-6th grade.  I'm assuming the growth spurt brought it on so early, even though I was a rail. 

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I wonder if anyone has done a long term study of the health of vegans, in terms of cancer rates, general sickness, mental acuity, and lifespan, compared to the general population.

I'm sure has been done but the mainstream is so focused on meat consumption/production, the research has probably been swept under the rug.

Yep. read the book "food politics". you wouldn't believe the stuff they hide (research).

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Funny you should mention that book. I was just in the library 20 minutes ago and saw that book up on the featured books shelf. I thought it looked interesting and snatched it.

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I just wanted to mention arachidonic acid. This is an omega-6 fatty acid which is in very high amounts in fish, organ meat, and poultry. It can cause hormonal issues in women, such as menstrual spotting and cramping.

http://www.obgyn.net/displayarticle.asp?page=/yw/articles/pats_dysmenorrha

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Foods to avoid would include foods high in arachidonic acid. This is the fat the body uses to produce the series-2 prostiglandins which are the ones that cause muscle and uterine contractions. These foods include: dairy products, saturated fats and animal foods. Some women find they lack the enzyme to digest dairy products, which contribute to the menstrual cramps. Chicken and turkey are lower in saturated fat but higher in arachidonic acid than red meats.

http://vascular-events.com/perimenopause.aspx

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In addition, meat/dairy foods contribute to the synthesis of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane. Arachidonic acid is an inflammatory mediator that stimulate substances (prostaglandins and thromboxane) which cause blood vessel spasms and dilatation. Changes in uterine (endometrial) blood vessels contributes to heavy and irregular menstrual bleeding.

http://www.yuccan.com/DrRona.htm

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The type of fat found exclusively in meats and dairy products is known as arachidonic acid. Saturated animal fats and arachidonic acid increase the inflammatory response by stimulating the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

http://www.herbs-hands-healing.co.uk/articles/dysmenprostaglandins.htm

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In order to start the ball rolling, your body has got to convert the Omega 6 series, linoleic acid (LA) into GLA (gamma-linoleic acid). It has been discovered that many women have an inherent (naturally occurring) problem in their bodies, which means that there is some difficulty converting the essential fatty acids to GLA.

If you are one of these women, and you are also a big dairy food eater, you will undoubtedly end up with very little PGE1 (good) and too much PGE2 (bad). Obviously when the balance is tipped in that direction, you’ll be much more likely to suffer some nasty symptoms, and one of those can be period pains.

http://www.obgyn.net/displayarticle.asp?page=/yw/articles/pats_dysmenorrha

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In the late 1970's studies showed that women with menstrual cramps had higher levels of a certain hormone prostaglandin (F2 alpha), and as the hormone was released into the bloodstream, and into the endometrial lining, the uterus went into spasm, resulting in cramping pain. So a good approach to lessening or eliminating menstrual cramps is to attack this aspect of it: the prostiglandins.
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P.S. There are other highly estrogenic foods that can cause problems for women (and men too), as well as the environmental estrogens we come across all the time now in plastics, pesticides, etc.

I've been having hormonal issues a lot lately and am finding it is VERY hard to avoid estrogen in foods.

So I am not surprised by this report!

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That's really interesting, because I disliked meat growing up and went on to become full-on vegetarian at age 13. I didn't get my period until I was 14. I wonder if that's why.

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