Health
5:00 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Teenage Binge Drinking May Have Lasting Effects

Teenagers who binge drink may do long-term damage to their brains, according to a study from UNC Chapel Hill. Scientists administered alcohol to adolescent mice and measured changes in brain matter. They found adolescent mice exposed to alcohol lost brain matter in the frontal cortex and were less proficient at memory tests. Dr. Fulton Crews is a professor of pharmacology at UNC. He says the human adolescent brain functions in much the same way:

"The teenage brain is much more sensitive to damage by alcohol. Particularly in the front part of the brain, which is still growing in adolescence."

Crews says that damage to this part of the brain when it is still in development may lower intelligence and increase the risk of mood disorders, impulsive behavior and alcohol addiction. The study is published in the current issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.