Young adults despite quitting drinking at an early stage might face health effects later in life, suggests a study.
The new findings published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggest that years of alcohol dependence during young adulthood result in silent but "permanent" injuries that, in later life, appear to result in serious health problems.
The findings are based on 368 men who did not report any symptoms of alcohol dependence at any point in adulthood, 221 who had at least three symptoms of dependence in young adulthood and middle-age and 75 who had symptoms in early adulthood but not after the age of 30.
Overall, the study found that men who had alcohol dependence symptoms for at least five years in early adulthood scored lower on standard measures of both physical and mental health once they'd reached their 60s.
"Those with alcohol dependence in young adulthood had, on average, three medical conditions in later life whereas those without this history reported two," said Randy Haber, researcher at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System, US.
In addition, their scores on a depression scale were about twice as high. Most important, these effects were seen even among men who had been free of dependence symptoms for several decades.
According to the researchers, years of alcohol exposure in early adulthood could have lasting effects on those brain areas.
"People who not only quit drinking but also turn their lifestyle around -- eating well, not smoking and just generally taking care of themselves -- will likely see health benefits that last into late life," Haber added.
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