Underage drinking 

Underage drinking is very dangerous, for not only the ones involved but for anyone around intoxicated teens.The consequences of underage drinking can affect everyone-regardless of age or drinking status. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America's youth. Drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.

We all feel the effects of aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, and deaths that can result from underage drinking. This is not simply a problem for some families-it is a nationwide concern. ("Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Deaths involving alcohol, such as a car accident, is devastating. Not only is it the fact someone has died but it was caused by someone who is drunk.

People ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.("Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Adults drink more often than teens, but when teens do drink they usually drink much more. That's because teens consume their alcohol in one sitting, that behavior is called binge drinking. This behavior alone can be highly damaging to your health even as an adult, imagine the effect it has on the bodies of teens. Their bodies are still developing so to introduce a chemical like alcohol into the system.

Based on data from 2006 to 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that alcohol is a contributor to the deaths of 4,358 young people under age 21 each year. This data includes car accidents, suicide, homicide, alcohol poisoning, falls, burns, and drowning. In 2011 188,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries.

Alcohol consumption causes impaired judgment. Hence why some vehicle accidents are caused by drunk drivers. Unprotected sexual behaviors can happen under the influence due to impaired judgment. Aggressive and violent behaviors are also more likely to happen while intoxicated when compared to being sober.

Research shows that people who start drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives. ("Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) This can cause a multitude of problems with health but also on relationships with others such as family and friends.

Underage drinking interferes with brain development. Research shows that young people's brains keep developing well into their 20s. ("Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) This may be why the legal drinking age is 21 when most of the brain development has already been done. Alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting both brain structure and function. This may cause cognitive or learning problems and/or make the brain more prone to alcohol dependence. This is especially a risk when people start drinking young and drink heavily.

Drinking can damage your body in several ways. Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart.(

"Alcohol's Effects on the Body". National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) The problems that can occur are cardiomyopathy - Stretching and drooping of the heart muscle, arrhythmias - Irregular heartbeat, stroke, and high blood pressure. Your liver is also affected. You can develop fibrosis,

cirrhosis, and steatosis (fatty liver). Alcohol consumption is an independent risk factor for, and a primary cause of, liver cancer Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are the other major causes of liver cancer.

Cancer is also linked to alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for certain head and neck cancers, particularly cancers of the oral cavity like the throat, and voice box. People who consume approximately 3.5 or more drinks per day of alcohol have at least 2 or 3 times greater risk of developing these cancers than nondrinkers. Moreover, the risks of these cancers are substantially higher among people who consume this amount of alcohol with the additional use of tobacco.

Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a particular type of esophageal cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. ("Alcohol's Effects on the Body". National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

In addition, people who inherit a deficiency in an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol have been found to have substantially increased risks of alcohol-related esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

More than 100 studies have looked at the correlation between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer in women. The studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with large alcohol intake. A meta-analysis of 53 of these studies showed that women who drank more than three drinks of alcohol per day had one and a half times the risk of developing breast cancer as nondrinkers. The risk of breast cancer was higher across all levels of alcohol intake.

The Million Women Study in the United Kingdom, which had more than 28,000 women with breast cancer, provided a more recent and slightly higher, estimate of breast cancer risk at low to medium levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. An analysis of 57 cohort and case-control studies that looked at the relation between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk and it showed that people who regularly drank almost close to 3.5 drinks, had 1.5 times the risk of developing colorectal cancer as nondrinkers or occasional drinkers.

"Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/underage-drinking.

"Alcohol's Effects on the Body". National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,