Aspartame and Second Hand Smoke Linked to Premature Puberty in Girls

Let’s face it: puberty, even when it occurs normally, can be a stressful time in the life of a developing young woman or man. Normally, puberty occurs between the ages of eight and thirteen in girls and nine and fourteen in boys. Of course, there are many signs ranging from the development of breasts and onset of menstruation in girls to a change in voice and bodily hair growth in boys. But, puberty seems to be coming earlier and earlier for our children, sometimes significant development is seen by seven years of age for girls and nine for boys, well before a child may be emotionally and physically able to handle these changes.

While premature breast development is a common problem in young girls, in the past scientists believed that the onset of menstruation has been largely unaffected by external factors, and typically occurs around age eleven or afterward, or about two to three years after other puberty symptoms appear. But, two new studies found that the age a young woman begins to menstruate can be affected by exposures to other factors, including: aspartame, caffeine, and second-hand cigarette smoke.

According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers found that some beverages could actually cause girls to prematurely begin their periods. In an effort to find out what may be causing premature onset of menstruation, scientists at Columbia University Medical Center, the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, and George Washington University constructed a study to determine whether soft drinks could be playing a role.

The scientists recruited 2379 girls, of which 1213 were of African-American ethnicity and 1166 were Caucasian. The girls were nine and ten years of age and had not yet begun menstruating. The researchers assessed the effects of consuming sugar-sweetened soft drinks, caffeinated soft drinks, artificially-sweetened soft drinks, and non-caffeinated soft drinks and found some startling results. While neither the sugar-sweetened or non-caffeinated soda seemed to play a role in the early onset of menstruation in the girls involved in the study, both artificially-sweetened and caffeinated soft drinks played a significant role.

The effects on other symptoms of puberty were not assessed in this study. The effects of aspartame and caffeine were also not assessed in boys, since this study focused exclusively on the onset of menstruation in girls.

In another study published in the online medical journal PLoS One, researchers found a link between second-hand smoke exposure and the premature start of periods in young women. In this study researchers assessed the effects of passive cigarette smoke on young women in southern China, none of whom had ever actively smoked cigarettes. In this study 20, 061 women were assessed for a possible link between passive cigarette smoke exposure and menarche (the beginning of periods in a young woman). The researchers determined that 11,379 women in the study were exposed to second-hand smoke during their childhood. Those who were exposed to the cigarette smoke of two smokers in their household had their periods begin 0.38 of a year earlier than those who had no exposure at all.

While it is likely that the aspartame, caffeine, and second-hand smoke are influencing the hormones of the young women, it is not clear what other effects they might experience in life as a result of these early exposures. It is clear that some of the effects of our modern lifestyle are affecting our children but it may be too soon to know how severely these effects will be experienced.

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161 comments

Jetana A
Jetana A7 months ago

compared with puberty onset at 7 in girls, the .38 year difference in period onset attributed to aspartame and smoke seems pretty insignificant. Obviously there are other (and stronger) contributing factors.

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn1 years ago

Many thanks to you !

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Jayasri Amma
Jayasri Amma2 years ago

Thank you!

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Tony L.
Away L2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this interesting article!! :-)

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Amy Thompson
Amy Thompson2 years ago

I grew up in a nonsmoking home, with an allowance of one non caffeinated soda per week. My mom was a health nut, thank goodness!
I'm apt to think that there are other contributing lifestyle factors in smoking homes that allow children to have caffeine and an abundance of soda. I can't imagine their diets are very healthy, considering!
I'd guess there is junk food, fast food, etc, if there's a lot of soda and parents who smoke near their children!!
This 'study' is far from controlled, in my opinion. I'd think the growth hormones in much of our food supply would be a contributing factor.
Also, obesity will cause girls to menstruate earlier, thus bringing into question the dietary and lifestyle factors of these study subjects.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Caroline d.
Caroline d2 years ago

I really apologize for bothering !
I'm also fed up and NEED à new PC! I hope to buy one soon.. Well as soon as possible !!!
Shall you forgive me ?
I sincerely hope so.
Thank you so much for your understanding !
Blessings ! Plenty of !

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Caroline d.
Caroline d2 years ago

I really apologize for bothering !
I'm also fed up and NEED à new PC! I hope to buy one soon.. Well as soon as possible !!!
Shall you forgive me ?
I sincerely hope so.
Thank you so much for your understanding !
Blessings ! Plenty of !

SEND
Caroline d.
Caroline d2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this very interesting article... But worrying!
Blessings for everyone !
Animals always included of course !

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