Teenage girls who binge drink could affect the health of their bones, a study has found.
Those who regularly drink large volumes of alcohol may fail to reach their peak bone mass, according to the research.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, shows a “potential lifetime consequence” of binge drinking, the authors said.
The researchers surveyed 87 women at college in the US, aged 18 to 20, on their drinking habits. They also had bone density in their spine measured.
Those who had frequently binged since high school had lower bone mass in their spines than their peers, the study found.
Frequent binge drinking was classed as having four or more drinks within two hours on 115 or more occasions – around 1.6 times a month.
This link was also seen when factors including exercise, nutrition and smoking habits were taken into account.
Lead author Joseph LaBrie, professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, said: “When we consider bone health, we always talk about things like exercise, calcium and vitamin D, and not smoking.
“We may also need to talk about avoiding binge drinking.”
The authors said factors which stop young women from reaching peak bone mass could increase their chances of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Women usually reach their peak bone density in the spine between the ages of 20 and 25.
Dr LaBrie said: “This study identifies a potential lifetime consequence of binge drinking in young women.”