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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
8-Feb-2011

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Contact: Katie Hickling
press@plos.org
44-122-344-2815
PLOS

Heavy drinking in older teenagers has long- and short-term consequences

In a systematic review of current evidence published in this week's PLoS Medicine, the authors--Jim McCambridge from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK, and colleagues--conclude that there is enough evidence to recommend that reducing drinking during late adolescence is likely to be important for preventing long-term adverse consequences of drinking, as well as protecting against more immediate harms.

Although there is an urgent need for better studies in this area, research to date provides some evidence that high alcohol consumption in late adolescence often continues into adulthood and is associated with long-term alcohol problems, including dependence.

The authors of the current study conducted a comprehensive literature review to identify 54 relevant studies which included at least one quantitative measure of the effects of alcohol, on outcomes in adulthood such as death, alcohol dependence, criminal offences, mental health, educational attainment, and smoking. The majority of these studies were multiple reports from ten cohorts, half of which were from the US.

The authors found that although there is consistent evidence that higher alcohol consumption in late adolescence continues into adulthood and is associated with alcohol and other problems, most of these studies could not strongly support direct causality because of their weak designs. Furthermore, although a number of studies suggested links with late adolescent drinking to adult physical and mental health and social consequences, this evidence is generally of poorer quality and insufficient to infer causality.

According to the authors: "It is clear that the evidence base on long-term consequences is not as extensive nor as compelling as it could be." Despite this limitation, they are able to say: "late adolescent alcohol consumption appears a probable cause of increased drinking well into adulthood, through to ages at which adult social roles have been achieved." However, they caution: "Heavier drinking seems most likely, however, to be only one component in a complex causal process, whose contribution has probably been overestimated in previous studies because of uncontrolled confounding, setting aside the uncertainties induced by self-reported data."

Funding: This study was funded by the Alcohol Education & Research Council (http://www.aerc.org.uk/), study R 03/2005. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation: McCambridge J, McAlaney J, Rowe R (2011) Adult Consequences of Late Adolescent Alcohol Consumption: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies. PLoS Med 8(2): e1000413. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000413

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000413

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-08-02-McCambridge.pdf

CONTACT:

Lindsay Wright
Press Officer,
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Tel: +44 207 927 2073/2802
lindsay.wright@lshtm.ac.uk


FROM THE PLoS MEDICINE MAGAZINE SECTION

Why did the HIV epidemic decline in Zimbabwe?

In this week's PLoS Medicine Magazine, Daniel Halperin from the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues examine reasons for the remarkable decline in HIV in Zimbabwe, in the context of severe social, political, and economic disruption.

Funding: Some of the studies upon which this paper is based were funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provided some logistical support as well as helping with coordination between the studies. Two of the authors of this paper (Benedikt and Campbell) are employed by UNFPA and helped edit the manuscript. The United Nations HIV-AIDS Program (UNAIDS) and the Zimbabwean Ministry for Health and Child Welfare also sponsored this study. TBH and SG thank the Wellcome Trust for funding support. The funders had no other role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation: Halperin DT, Mugurungi O, Hallett TB, Muchini B, Campbell B, et al. (2011) A Surprising Prevention Success: Why Did the HIV Epidemic Decline in Zimbabwe? PLoS Med 8(2): e1000414. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000414

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000414

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-08-02-Halperin.pdf

CONTACT:

Daniel Halperin
Harvard School of Public Health
Department of Global Health and Population
665 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States of America
+1 617 432 7388
daniel_halperin@harvard.edu

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