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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Younger Drinking Age Brings More Binge Drinking

Those who could legally buy alcohol before age 21 are linked to an increased risk of binge drinking later in life, a new study suggests. More than 39,000 people who started drinking in the 1970s took part in the study, when some states allowed people as young as 18 to purchase alcohol.

Those living in states with lower minimum drinking ages were not found to consume more alcohol overall, or to drink more frequently, compared with those in states with a legal drinking age of 21. Researchers found that when they did consume alcohol, they were more likely to drink heavily, Science Daily reports.

“It wasn’t just that lower minimum drinking ages had a negative impact on people when they were young,” lead author Andrew D. Plunk, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a news release. “Even decades later, the ability to legally purchase alcohol before age 21 was associated with more frequent binge drinking.”

Plunk found that those who did not attend college were affected more by the minimum legal drinking age. “Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem,” he said. “But it’s also important not to completely forget about young people who aren’t on college campuses. In our study, they had the greatest risk of suffering the long-term consequences linked to lower drinking ages.”

The study appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
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