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Friday, August 29, 2008

Harmful Consequences of Alcohol Use on the Brain.

Comprehensive research on how alcohol affects the brains of youth reveals just how harmful drinking is to the developing brain. The average age of a child's first drink is now 12. Nearly 20 percent of 12 to 20 year-olds are considered binge drinkers. Frontal lobe development and the refinement of pathways and connections continue until age 16, and a high rate of energy is used as the brain matures until age 20. Damage from alcohol at this time can be long-term and irreversible. Adolescents need only drink half as much to suffer the same negative effects as adults. Alcohol affects the sleep cycle, resulting in impaired learning and memory as well as disrupted release of hormones necessary for growth and maturation. Those who binge once a week or increase their drinking from age 18 to 24 may have problems attaining marriage, educational attainment, employment, and financial independence. A major source of the normalization of alcohol use by children and youth is alcohol advertising. With these new findings the AMA calls on TV networks to pledge not to run alcohol ads targeted at underage youth.

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