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Teens Who Start Puberty Early More Likely to Experiment with Substance Use

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A new survey of teens finds those who start puberty early are more likely to try cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, compared with those who begin on time or late.

The survey of almost 6,500 boys and girls ages 11 to 17 included questions about substance use in the last three months and the age when they began puberty, HealthDay reports.

“While puberty is often thought of as a solely biological process, our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” study author Jessica Duncan Cance of the University of Texas at Austin said in a university news release. “Our study suggests that being the first girl in the class to need a bra, for example, prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life,” she said.

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.

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