This was a headline in the Irish Independent yesterday.I thought it would be a good discussion topic.
A DIET high in meat may lead to early puberty in girls, a new study suggests.
It found that those who had higher intakes of meat and protein between aged three and seven were more likely than other girls to have started their periods by the time they were 12-and-a-half years old.
The report found that 49pc of girls eating more than 12 portions of meat a week at the age of seven had started their periods by 12-and-a-half, compared with 35pc of those who ate less than four portions a week.
Dr Rogers, a senior lecturer at the university's school of pharmacy and biomolecular sciences, said there was also evidence that girls who started their periods early were at higher risk of a number of diseases, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer and heart disease.
However, she said: "Meat is a good source of many important nutrients, including iron and zinc. There is no reason why girls should adopt a vegetarian diet or that meat in moderation cannot form a valuable part of a balanced diet."
She said the findings needed repeating in other populations before firm recommendations on diet could be made.
But she added: "These results add to the evidence that it is healthiest to avoid diets containing very high amounts of meat."
The research, funded by the World Cancer Research Fund and involving researchers from the University of Bristol, has been published in the journal 'Public Health Nutrition'.
- Tom Pugh in London