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An Important Science Lesson Before Spring Break

Three young women on beach for spring break and drinkingWith Spring Break here and many girls tempted to take their first drink, it’s important to  explain to them why they can’t drink alcohol in the same way as boys. The Science Inside Alcohol Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests that girls be informed about the scientific research regarding the effects and dangers of alcohol consumption compared to boys. This is in hopes of delaying a girl’s first drink and alcohol abuse prevention.

A recent report from the Partnership for a Drug Free America found alcohol use among teens has risen 11 percent from 2008 to 2009. Studies find that teens are drinking younger and more frequently. In the 1960s, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported seven percent of girls between the ages of 10 and 14 had their first drink. Today, 31 percent of girls try alcohol before entering high school. Studies have also shown that the younger a person is when they first start using alcohol increases their risk of developing substance abuse problems later in life.

According to The Science Inside Alcohol Project, here are some important scientific facts to share with teens:

– Girls have less water in their bodies than boys. Girls have a slightly higher proportion of fat to lean muscle tissue, concentrating alcohol more easily in their lower percentage of body water. This means they become intoxicated faster after drinking less alcohol.

– Girls have fewer enzymes to break alcohol down. Alcohol dehydrogenases are a group of seven enzymes that help break down alcohol so the body processes it. Girls have fewer of them, so it is not as easy for their bodies to metabolize the alcohol they drink.

– Girls are smaller and often weigh less than boys. When drinking the same amount as a boy, a girl will experience a quicker rise in her blood alcohol level, and she may stay intoxicated for a longer period of time. Girls who drink heavily can be at greater risk for alcohol poisoning because it takes less alcohol for them to get really sick.

– Girls often prefer sweeter, carbonated mixed drinks. Such drinks can speed up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.

For more information on how to talk to a teen visit: http://www.aaas.org/programs/education/ScienceInside/alcohol/

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