Red meat intake during childhood leads to earlier onset of puberty in adolescent girls, according to a study published online in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers monitored red meat intake and the age of menarche of 456 participants from the Bogota School Children Cohort. Those who consumed two or more servings of red meat per day began menstruation several months earlier than those who consumed less red meat. High levels of iron and zinc, heterocyclic amines, and hormones found in red meat may alert the body to begin puberty earlier. Researchers stress that earlier menarche negatively affects disease risk for breast cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic conditions later in life.
- Jansen EC, Marín C, Mora-Plazas M, Villamor E. Higher childhood red meat intake frequency is associated with earlier age at menarche. J Nutr. Published online March 9, 2016.