Drinking alcohol during adolescence associated with atrophied brain growth



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New research on monkeys has shown that alcohol consumption during adolescence and early adulthood can result in atrophied brain growth.

The brain undergoes some very important developments during those years as we move from adolescence to adulthood, which is what happens with the time when many people start drinking for the first time.

The authors behind this new research, which was published in the eNeuro magazine, attempted to find out what alcohol caused the brains of adolescents by examining the effect it had on 71 rhesus macaques.

The monkeys received unrestricted access to the drink and researchers examined the effect this has had on their brains.

They found that heavy alcohol intake reduced the rate of brain growth in these monkeys by an alarming amount.

They were 0.25 milliliters per year for each gram of alcohol consumed per pound of body weight, which equals approximately four beers per day.

They had very strict control over this experiment and made a point of measuring and monitoring the drinking and dieting monkeys as well as their daily activities.

"Studies in humans are based on the self-reporting of underage drinkers," explained one of the study's authors, Christopher Kroenke, Ph.D. "Our measures point to alcohol consumption with impaired brain growth."

Data from Alcohol Action Ireland show that 64% of 13- to 17-year-olds have tried alcohol before and almost half of them drink every month.

Commenting on the research, lead author of the study, Dr. Tatiana Shnitko, said: "This is the age range where the brain is being adjusted to suit the responsibilities of adults.

"The question is, does alcohol exposure during this age range alter the learning ability of individuals' lives?"

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