YOUNGER AND YOUNGER
ANCHOR LEAD: MORE AND MORE GIRLS ARE GETTING THEIR PERIOD AT YOUNGER AGES, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Age at menarche, or the age at which a girl has her first period, has been declining in industrialized nations for decades, with girls as young as eight beginning their cycle today. Many experts speculate that increasing body mass index may play a role, as well as environmental exposures to estrogen-like chemicals. Whatever the reason, Ben Park, a breast cancer expert at Johns Hopkins, says there could be another consequence.
PARK: What’s really striking about this report is that that age now seems to be getting younger and younger and younger, and one might speculate that that’s going to translate into even a higher rate of breast cancer in the future. Right now we’re kind of seeing this period where we’re seeing a decline in incidence of breast cancer in this country, thought to be correlated with the time when we stopped using hormonal replacement therapies in postmenopausal women. This may reverse that trend in the future. :25
Maintaining a healthy weight is known to reduce breast cancer risk. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.