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E. Studying The Effects Of Drinking

Narrator: This is Science Today. Although heavy alcohol consumption has dropped among white males, researcher Raul Caetano of the University of California, Berkeley says that doesn't mean the amount of drinking problems, such as drunk driving, will drop right away.

Caetano: I think that the best way to understand it is to think of a problem like cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis of the liver is a problem that, if related to alcohol, happens after a number of years of heavy drinking. But once you have liver cirrhosis, it doesn't matter whether you stop or not because you continue to have liver cirrhosis.

Narrator: So Caetano says a sudden drop in alcohol consumption will not immediately change the rate of alcohol related problems.

Caetano: The rate of problems lags behind the rate of drinking so there is usually a drop in drinking and a drop in problems happens many years after the drop in drinking or sometimes, it never happens.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.