Binge drinking, also defined as bouts of heavy drinking, should be avoided at all costs. It exposes an individual to a number of health issues: hypertension, weight-gain and type 2 diabetes. But while these might be more common to adults, the consequences are far worse for teenagers.
According to a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, teenagers who indulge in binge drinking set themselves up for a whole lot of anxiety as an adult, trigger a few long-lasting behaviourial problems and could cause brain damage.
Subhash Pandey, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and lead author of the study said: "Intermittent alcohol exposure degrades the ability of the brain to form the connections it needs to during adolescence. The brain doesn't develop as it should, and there are lasting behavioural changes associated with this."
The study: In the study, Subhash Pandey and his colleagues observed the behaviour of rats after they gave 28-day-old rats alcohol for two days, followed by a two day break and repeated this for 13 days. When the researchers analysed tissue from a part of the brain called the amygdala, they found in the exposed rats that the DNA and histones appeared to be tightly wrapped. The part amygdala is the one that is responsible for with decision-making, emotional reactions and memory. Rats exposed to alcohol during adolescence exhibited changes in behaviour that lasted into adulthood, long after exposure to alcohol ended.
"On-and-off exposure to alcohol during adolescence altered the activity of genes needed for normal brain maturation. The gene alterations increased anxiety-like behaviour and preference for alcohol in adulthood," Pandey said. The behavioural effects, he said, were due to "epigenetic" changes. Epigenetic changes are chemical modifications of the DNA or of the proteins around which DNA is wound, like thread on a spool.
These changes regulate many processes, including brain development and maturation during adolescence.
This study highlighted the expected behaviour change but we've got another credible study here which suggest that binge drinking young might also lead to alcohol addiction.
The study was published in 'Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health' and found that men who took up drinking as teenagers were more than twice as likely to be distressed and alcohol dependent in the future. The study also shared some shocking statistics. Did you know that the number of male teenagers who drink has tripled in India, especially those living in urban cities and poorer households?
The findings highlighted the importance of generating public awareness about the hazards of consuming alcohol early in life and stressed on the need for more in-depth research.
With inputs from IANS