Binge-drinking can endanger teen lives in more ways than one, by causing alcohol poisoning, accidents, poor academic performance and putting them at greater risk of sexual assault. But it can also harm your health, particularly your bones.
A recent study done by Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, shows that teenage girls who regularly binge-drink may have weaker bones for the rest of their lives. The study was done on 87 college women, and found that those who regularly binge-drank in high school had lower bone mass in the spine. That was true even after accounting for other factors that affect bone density, such as exercise, nutrition and smoking habits.
The findings are based on studies done on students aged 18 to 20 — a time when bone mass should still be accruing. Women reach peak bone density at the spine between the ages of 20 and 25.The team found that women who binged frequently since high school had lower bone mass than their peers. “Frequent” drinking refers to bingeing at least 115 times or nearly twice a month on average.
Lead researcher Joseph LaBrie noted that anything that keeps a young woman from reaching her peak bone mass will probably raise the odds of developing osteoporosis years down the road.
The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Here are some of the other studies on the effects of binge drinking on teenagers:
* A new study done by researchers from the University of Adelaide says that parents who introduce teenagers to alcohol could be doing more harm than good. “Many parents believe that providing their children with alcohol in the safe environment of their home teaches them to drink responsibly. However, the weight of evidence suggests that this increases consumption, and is not recommended,” says lead author Jacqueline Bowden.
* A study done in Sweden shows that people who begin drinking early in life run the risk of developing liver problems in adulthood.
* A study done by the University of Connecticut in the US found that teenagers who drink alcohol regularly are at greater risk of developing cancer.
* Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia found that there were no benefits or protective effects associated with giving teenagers alcohol when compared with teenagers who were not given alcohol. Instead, parental provision of alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of teenagers accessing alcohol through other sources, compared with teenagers not given any alcohol. Importantly, teenagers supplied with alcohol by only their parents for one year were twice as likely to access alcohol from other sources the next year.