It doesn't take a statistic to show that little girls are becoming women earlier and earlier. Breast development, menstruation, and production of sex hormones all used to be traits of the teenage years, but now some fourth-graders have to worry about menstrual periods.
At the same time, studies also show that the rate of obesity is rising among young people and some researchers see a link between the two. Others see consumption of food additives having an influence on sexual development.
Below are some questions and answers about the role of hormones in women's health from an early age.
How Does Estrogen Affect the Reproductive Cycle?
Estrogen is a natural sex hormone that is produced in females as well as males. Among its many functions is to protect female fertility by regulating the menstrual cycle. However, there are such things as environmental estrogens with which young people come into contact every day. Too much exposure can cause the natural estrogens to be disturbed.
What Does Obesity Have to Do with Early Puberty?
Fat cells can stimulate the production of sex hormones, like estrogen. Estrogen, in combination with progesterone, controls a female's menstrual cycle. Becoming overweight at an early age may cause a premature overproduction of estrogen, which could lead to early puberty.
Can Food Additives Affect Estrogen Production?
There are more than 3,000 additives, flavors, and colors that companies add to processed food. Of the commonly used additives, several have been found to possess estrogenic properties that have an effect on natural hormone levels.
Is Estrogen Linked to Menopausal Weight Gain?
Yes, estrogen imbalance is definitely one of the causes of menopausal weight gain and the reason women begin to carry more weight in their midsections around this time of their lives. However, exercise and diet have a profound effect on weight.
Does Early Puberty Affect Breast Cancer Risk Later on?
Studies have shown that girls who enter puberty at an earlier age than others have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. It is not known exactly why.
Talk with your doctor about your personal and family medical histories. Some conditions are inherited while others are a product of environmental factors. Your doctor can give you more information about your specific situation. Get educated about the impact of your lifestyle choices on your body. To read more about estrogen production, follow this link.