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Lower drinking age drives bingeing later

IANS  Washington, February 08, 2013
First Published: 14:17 IST(8/2/2013) | Last Updated: 11:32 IST(9/2/2013)

People legally permitted to drink before 21 years are more likely to turn to binge drinking later in life, according to a study.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tracked the long-term drinking behaviour of more than 39,000 people who began consuming alcohol in the 1970s when some US states had legal drinking ages as low as 18.

"It wasn't just that lower minimum drinking ages had a negative impact on people when they were young," says study co-author Andrew D. Plunk, post-doctoral research fellow in psychiatry, the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research reports.

"Even decades later, the ability to legally purchase alcohol before age 21 was associated with more frequent binge drinking," adds Plunk, according to a Washington statement.

The effect was most pronounced among men who did not attend college. And the researchers say the findings should be a warning to those who advocate lowering the minimum drinking age.

"Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem," Plunk says. "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."

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