ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Low levels of vitamin D in young girls may account for their earlier menstruation, a risk factor for many health problems later in life, U.S. researchers say.
Epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says early menstruation is a risk factor for behavioral and psychosocial problems in teens. Girls who had earlier menarche -- first menstruation -- appear to have increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases and cancer, particularly breast cancer, as adults.
The study involved 242 girls ages 5-12 from Bogota, Colombia, and tracked them for 30 months, Villamor said. Girls with low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely as those with sufficient vitamin D to start menstruation during the study than, Villamor said.
Villamor and colleagues found 57 percent of the girls in the vitamin D-deficient group reached menarche during the study, compared to 23 percent in the vitamin D-sufficient group.
Girls who were low in vitamin D were about 11.8 years old when they started menstruating, compared to the other group at about age 12.6 years old, Villamor said.
The 10-month difference is substantial, Villamor said, because even though 10 months may not seem like a long time, at that age a lot is happening rapidly to a young girl's body.