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Hangovers hit older people harder


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Hangovers hit older people harder


By FIONA MACRAE Last updated at 23:34pm on 5th November 2006 commentIconSm.gif

hangoversG051106_228x237.jpgHangover hell: Feeling the effects of drink





It is something that many of us have long suspected - hangovers really do get worse as you get older. Scientists have shown that teenagers have a greater resistance to alcohol.

Not only are they less clumsy and sleepy on the night itself, they do not suffer as much the next day.


It is thought that the adolescent brain, which develops rapidly during the teenage years, copes better with the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

It is not all good news, however, as youngsters may be lulled into a false sense of security, leading them to do untold damage to their health.

Study author Professor Elena Varlinskaya said: 'This ability of adolescents to rapidly counteract some unpleasant alcohol effects may allow them to have more drinks per occasion.

'This pattern of binge drinking, being unsafe in general, might be extremely dangerous for adolescents, given that their brain is especially vulnerable to alcohol damage.'

The U.S. psychologist studied the effects of alcohol on rats with the equivalent age to human teenagers and adults.

The rats - chosen because their brain development mimics that of humans - were dosed with alcohol and their movements monitored.

The dose given was equivalent, weight for weight, to a man or woman drinking three or four alcoholic drinks in quick succession.

Five minutes after being injected with alcohol, both age groups were more inhibited.

They were less playful, less active and groomed themselves and their fellow creatures less. Thirty minutes later, there was a noticeable difference between the groups.

While the adult rats were still sluggish, the younger animals were almost as frisky as rats that had not been given any alcohol at all, the journal Alcoholism: Clinical And Experimental Research reports.

Other studies have shown that teenage rats suffer less from clumsiness and sleepiness after being given alcohol and rarely suffer the symptoms of a hangover. Professor Varlinskaya, of Binghamton University in New York, said: 'We found greater tolerance in adolescent than adult animals at alcohol levels comparable to binge drinking.

'The findings support the notion that the adolescent brain functions quite differently than the adult brain, particularly in response to alcohol.'

But this tolerance does have its drawbacks. It is thought the hangover is nature's way of ensuring we do not damage our bodies by drinking to excess, leaving those who are hangover-free at greater danger of harming their health.

Prof Varlinskaya said: 'Unpleasant physical symptoms associated with alcohol intoxication and hangover, which make adults stop drinking, are not experienced to the same degree by adolescents.

'A lack of overt signs of intoxication may mask the more potentially harmful effects of alcohol on learning and memory.'

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