Age at first drink may determine vulnerability to alcohol dependence

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According to a study recently reported online in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, a genetic predisposition to alcohol dependance may be activated when individuals start drinking at an early age, sooner than later researchers say. According to Arpana Agrawai, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleges, imbibing before the age of thirteen created a considerably greater risk of the activation of heritable influences resulting in alcohol dependance. Additionally, alcohol dependance in this group actually increased with decreasing age-at-first-drink. Dr. Agrawai, commenting, said, “drinking at an early age may create an environment where individuals can more easily transition from normative to problematic drinking… or it is possible that [early drinking] may induce changes in the highly sensitive adolescent brain, which may also modify an individual’s subsequent genetic vulnerability to alcohol dependance.” Interesting theories. Click here to read a article from Reuters that discusses this study more.

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