According to a Harvard Medical School study, girls who drink sugary soda more often are more likely to start their menstrual cycles at a younger age.
Researchers analyzed data from 5,583 girls in the Growing up Today Study (GUTS), surveying American children from 1996 to 2001, beginning when they were between the ages of 9 to 14. The study, published in Human Reproduction, found that girls were 24% more likely to start menarche (their first menstrual cycle) in the next month if they drank at least 1.5 servings of sugar-sweetened drinks a day than if they drank no more than two servings per week.
This correlation was true for the carbonated drinks with added sugars, but not for drinks with natural sugars like fruit juice, says Karin Michels, a co-author and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. This study did not examine the underlying reasons for this, but according to Dr. Karin Michels, it’s probably because the natural sugar in fruit juice has less of an effect on insulin levels and changes to hormonal metabolism the sugar often added to carbonated drinks.
The researchers say sugary sodas also put kids at risk for obesity, which is another cause of early menstruation. They accounted for obesity in this study, and found that sugary drinks cause early menstruation regardless of weight.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that a diet high in red meat can shorten life expectancy.
The study of more than 120,000 people suggested red meat increased the risk of death from cancer and heart problems.
Substituting red meat with fish, chicken or nuts lowered the risks, the authors said.
According to The British Heart Foundation, red meat could still be eaten as part of a balanced diet.
The researchers analyzed data from 37,698 men between 1986 and 2008 and 83,644 women between 1980 and 2008.
The researchers said adding an extra portion of unprocessed red meat to someone’s daily diet would increase the risk of death by 13%, of fatal cardiovascular disease by 18% and of cancer mortality by 10%.
The figures for processed meat were higher, 20% for overall mortality, 21% for death from heart problems and 16% for cancer mortality.
The study of more than 120,000 people suggested red meat increased the risk of death from cancer and heart problems
The study said: “We found that a higher intake of red meat was associated with a significantly elevated risk of total, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality.
“This association was observed for unprocessed and processed red meat with a relatively greater risk for processed red meat.”
The researchers suggested that saturated fat from red meat may be behind the increased heart risk and the sodium used in processed meats may “increase cardiovascular disease risk through its effect on blood pressure”.
Victoria Taylor, a dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Red meat can still be eaten as part of a balanced diet, but go for the leaner cuts and use healthier cooking methods such as grilling.
“If you eat processed meats like bacon, ham, sausages or burgers several times a week, add variation to your diet by substituting these for other protein sources such as fish, poultry, beans or lentils.”
A US study found that some antipsychotic medication may increase the risk of death in patients with dementia more than others.
The antipsychotics have a powerful sedative effect so are often used when dementia patients become aggressive or distressed.
A study, published on the BMJ website, argued that antipsychotics should not be used “in the absence of clear need”.
Experts said better alternatives were needed to antipsychotics.
A study in 2009, suggested 180,000 people with dementia were taking antipsychotic medication in the UK and said the drugs resulted in 1,800 additional deaths.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School followed 75,445 people in nursing homes who had dementia and were prescribed antipsychotics.
The researchers said some drugs were associated with more than twice the risk of death than risperidone, another antipsychotic which was used as a benchmark to compare the other drugs.
The study concluded: “The data suggest that the risk of mortality with these drugs is generally increased with higher doses and seems to be highest for haloperidol and least for quetiapine.”
However, the way the study was conducted meant it could not say definitively that certain drugs actually caused more deaths, merely that there was a link between the two.
The Department of Health said antipsychotic use was “resulting in as many as 1,800 unnecessary deaths per year. This is simply unacceptable.”
“That’s why reducing the level of antipsychotics prescribing for people with dementia by two-thirds is one the key priorities in the National Dementia Strategy.”
A US study found that some antipsychotic medication may increase the risk of death in patients with dementia more than others
The Dementia Action Alliance – which includes the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and the Department of Health – has called for all prescriptions for antipsychotics to be reviewed by the end of March 2012.
Dr. Chris Fox, who researches dementia at the University of East Anglia, said: “This study provides an interesting insight into the differential harm of these medicines.
“More work is needed on alternatives to these medicines in dementia with behavioral problems.
“In addition, there is a need to consider duration of use in more acute situations such as severe distress. Is six or 12-week use safe in people with dementia?”
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s chief executive Rebecca Wood said the risks of antipsychotics were “well-established” yet “progress has been frustratingly slow” in reducing their use.
She said the drugs “should only be used for people with dementia where there is no alternative for dealing with challenging behavior”.
Dr. Anne Corbett, research manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “For a minority of people with dementia antipsychotics should be used, but then only for up to 12 weeks, and under the correct circumstances. For the majority, they do far more harm than good.”