Teen binge drinkers at risk of future bone fractures

July 13th, 2010 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 13 (IANS) Binge-drinking teenagers may be at risk of future osteoporosis and bone fractures, a new study says.
Osteoporosis is a condition that is linked with fractures.

A new Loyola University Health System study has found long-lasting disruptions in hundreds of genes involved in bone formation in rats, caused by binge drinking, the Alcohol and Alcoholism journal reports.

Binge drinking has been defined as a man having at least five drinks on one occasion, said a Loyola University release. Heavy binge drinkers can consume 10 to 15 drinks.

Binge drinking typically begins around 13 years and peaks between 18 and 22, before gradually decreasing.

The study examined the effects of binge drinking on genes. Rats received injections of alcohol that resulted in a blood alcohol level of 0.28.

Rats were exposed to binge amounts of alcohol on either three consecutive days (acute binge) or three consecutive days for four weeks in a row (chronic binge). They were compared to control rats who received saline.

Researchers found that about 300 bone-related genes were disrupted in rats exposed to acute binge drinking and 180 bone-related genes were disrupted in rats exposed to chronic binge drinking.

“Lifestyle-related damage done to the skeleton during young adulthood may have repercussions lasting decades,” bone biologist John Callaci, of Loyola University, who conducted the study and colleagues wrote.

Callaci cautioned that data from animals don’t directly translate to people. “But the findings certainly suggest that this could be a problem with humans,” he added.

Bone mass is lost throughout adult life as part of the aging process. Thus, anything that inhibits the buildup of bone mass during the critical years of adolescence and young adulthood could increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in later life.

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