Alcohol impacts youngsters' DNA, says study
Article date: 30 December 2013
Particularly at this time of year with people enjoying perhaps a tipple or two more than they might otherwise, the harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption have once again come to the fore.
A new study published in the journal Alcohol has highlighted the damaging effect that it can have on youngsters' DNA.
The investigations began in Mexico, with scientists working with university students to look at what impact drinking alcohol at the weekend was having on the lipids making up the participants' cells membranes and genetic material.
Inspiration for the research came when lecturer in Clinical Biochemistry at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico Adela Rendon noticed her students weren't firing on all cylinders in classes on Monday morning, as a result of boozing at the weekend.
With investigators having divided participating students into two groups - one that consumed alcohol and another that did not - the results revealed DNA damage in eight per cent of the cells of those who had laid off the booze and in 44 per cent of those who hadn't; rather, 5.3 times more.
This had not been documented before, perhaps because many of the studies into alcohol abuse consider older participants who have had problems with a drinking habit for a matter of years. Such behaviour can cause very serious health problems such as cancer, depression and liver damage - all of which have been well investigated, evidenced and reported.
In this way, this new research is all the more ground-breaking as it considers seemingly healthy, fit, young individuals.
Further illustrating its importance is World Health Organization data that suggests alcohol is currently to blame for 2.5 million deaths a year across the world, out of which 320,000 individuals are aged between 19 and 25.
"When we talk about youth alcohol abuse, we are referring to youngsters who drink alcohol without having become addicted. Addiction involves a more complex issue socially and psychologically speaking. This is social alcohol abuse, but which causes damage in the long term and you have to be aware of that," explained the lecturer.