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Friends May Sway Teen Girls' Drinking

Study: Teenage Girls May Be More Vulnerable Than Teenage Boys to Peer Pressure
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 26, 2007 -- Teenage girls may be more likely than teenage boys to copy their friends' alcohol use -- and more vulnerable to peer pressure, a new study shows.

For the study, more than 1,400 pairs of 14-year-old twins in Finland answered questions about their drinking and their friends.

About two-thirds of the twins -- 63% of girls and 66% of boys -- said they never drank alcohol. Similar percentages of boys and girls reported drinking occasionally or at least weekly.

Teenage girls were more likely to report drinking if they had friends who drank, smoke, or who had gotten into trouble at school for bad behavior or dishonesty.

The same wasn't true for boys. So the researchers suggest that girls may be more influenced than boys by their friends.

There was one exception. Girls or boys were more likely to report drinking if they had some friends of the opposite sex.

The twins weren't followed over time. So it's not clear which came first -- having friends with risky habits or starting to drink.

The researchers -- who included Virginia Commonwealth University's Danielle Dick, PhD -- don't chalk up the results to genetics alone. Choice of friends matters, too.

They report their findings in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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