The Effects of Alcohol on Physiological Processes and Biological Development

September 2004
Alcohol Research & Health;2004/2005, Vol. 28 Issue 3, p125
Academic Journal
Adolescence is a period of rapid growth and physical change; a central question is whether consuming alcohol during this stage can disrupt development in ways that have long-term consequences. In general, the existing evidence suggests that adolescents rarely exhibit the more severe chronic disorders associated with alcohol dependence such as liver cirrhosis, hepatitis, gastritis, and pancreatitis. Adolescents who drink heavily, however, may experience some adverse effects on the liver, bone, growth, and endocrine development. Evidence also is mounting, at least in animal models, that early alcohol use may have detrimental effects on the developing brain, perhaps leading to problems with cognition later in life. This article summarizes the physiological effects of alcohol on adolescents, including a look at the long-term behavioral and physiological consequences of early drinking.


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