People who start drinking earlier may be at a greater risk of having alcohol-related injuries. Researchers from the U.S.'s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied 34,600 adults. In 2001-2002 they were asked about the age when they began drinking alcohol and in 2004-2005 they were asked about their subsequent behaviour and whether they had engage in risky activities such as driving, swimming and operating machinery under the influence of alcohol since the last survey. Starting drinking at 16 or younger (the legal age for drinking alcohol in the U.S. is 21) doubled the likelihood of alcohol-related driving or unintentional injuries and the risk for alcohol dependence or abuse. One-third of unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol occurred among 25-year-old respondents even though they made up only a small proportion of the sample.
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