VCU study: teen alcohol use affects health as an adult

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new study from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) found that abusing alcohol as a teen can lead to poor health down the road.

The study also found that the earlier the misuse begins, the more likely it is to create alcohol struggles in adulthood, according to a release. The researchers found these behaviors were also directly related to worsening physical health and lower life satisfaction.

The study was a joint effort between Angela Pascale, a VCU doctoral graduate student, who collaborated with Jessica Salvatore, Ph.D., an associate professor at Rutgers University. They looked at data from nearly 3,000 pairs of twins born in Finland in the late 70s, measuring their health over time.

“The longitudinal twin design is especially helpful for clarifying whether there are confounding family factors that predispose someone to both misuse alcohol in adolescence and experience poorer physical health and well-being later on in early midlife,” Salvatore said in an email statement. “This is because the twin design allows us to compare exposures and outcomes over time within the same family.”

“The findings — and in particular the findings that effects remained consistent even after controlling for genetic and environmental factors that twin siblings share — underscore the importance of preventative interventions targeting adolescents with alcohol misuse and in turn mitigating health consequences later into adulthood,” Pascale said in a press release about the study.