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Study on underage drinking: Increased risk of suicide, homicide

Here is a study that comes in the wake of controversy over the amount of underage drinking that happens on college campuses and off-campus parties nationwide, lending support to those who oppose underage drinking.

As Meredith Melnick writes for TIME Magazine, a study conducted by an epidemiology professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that lowering the legal drinking age to below the age of 21 may have unintended health effects on women, heightening the risk of suicide and homicide for those women who had lived in states during the 1960s and 1970s with lower drinking age limits.

1984 was the year of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which set the legal age of 21 across all states. As Melnick writes, the debate over underage drinking often centers on personal liberties as opposed to safety.

The study indicates that there's another reason to keep the Drinking Age Act in effect - to prevent the risk of suicide and homicide from going up. As one epidemiology researcher says, "This study is an important reminder of the public-health effectiveness of controlling alcohol at the population level during a very critical time in development."

Source: TIME Magazine, "Study: Another Reason to Keep the Drinking Age at 21," by Meredith Melnick, 11/16/11

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