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Teen Binge Drinking: Research Roundup

We’ve been seeing a lot of new research lately about teen behaviours and how they can affect us later in life. No wonder they call the teens the formative years! Now, there’s even more evidence that bad behaviour in your teens can have a serious health impacts on you the rest of your days!

Teen Girls with Beer - © rand.orgBinge drinking in teen girls can lead to multiple health issues in later life…

First came the shocking news that dieting can lead to other risky behaviours in teen girls. Then, we learned that a high-fat diet in your teens may effect how well you deal with stress in later years. Now, we hear of two more links to teen habits and behaviours that put you at greater risk of illness in adulthood…

Teen Binge drinking may disrupt adult memory

A new study just published in the learned journal JNeurosci reveals a link between teen binge drinking and the development of alcohol abuse disorders in later life.

Researchers found that binge drinking – defined as excessive consumption of alcohol during the first five minutes of availability – can lead to reduced activity in the brain’s prefrontal cortex (PFC). That’s the part of your brain that connects the PFC to other brain areas and is, therefore, important for the regulation of behavior.

Team leader Dr. Michael Salling notes that, “Teenage binge drinking is associated with reduced PFC activity, cognitive deficits, and later alcohol abuse. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these observations are unclear.”

Salling’s team only conducted experiments using lab mice, but he says that further study could help scientists better understand the development of alcohol use disorders in adults.

Teen binge drinking may cause bone density issues

Teenage girls who regularly binge drink may fail to reach their peak bone mass, according to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The study, of 87 college women, found that those who regularly binge drank in high school had lower bone mass in the spine. That was true even when researchers accounted for other factors that affect bone density — such as exercise, nutrition and smoking habits. And research team leader Dr. Joseph LaBrie, a Professor of Psychology at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, adds that it’s already known that failure to reach peak bone mass early in life can increase a woman’s risk of osteoporosis later in life.

The study involved college women aged 18 to 20 where asked to fill out a lifestyle questionnaire and underwent measurements of their bone mass. Overall, LaBrie’s team found women who’d binged frequently since high school had lower bone mass than their peers. ‘Frequently’ was defined as consuming four or more alcoholic drinks within two hours or less.

“When we consider bone health,” LaBrie said, “we always talk about things like exercise, calcium and vitamin D, and […] smoking. We may also need to talk about avoiding binge drinking.”

So, there you have it…

…Even more evidence that bad behaviours in your teens can cause serious health issues in later life. If you don’t see a life lesson in all this, you’re not looking!

~ Maggie J.