Binge drinking and abortions are on the rise in the UK, a study shows. Those who hit the bottle are 40 per cent likelier than others to have unprotected sex - and they go on to abort.
More and more teenage girls say they might have lost their virginity after getting drunk. Indeed newspaper reports say that the number of abortions has soared to make Britain the termination capital of Europe. Also, as per the study, drinking to excess is increasing in either sex in the country.
Researchers from University College London examined the alcohol consumption and sexual activity of almost 25,000 individuals aged 16 to 44 over a ten-year period.
They found that women who drank in excess - more than 14 units a week - were 1.8 times more likely to have taken emergency contraception such as the morning after pill at least once over the last year.
They were also 1.4 times likelier to have had at least one abortion in the last 18 months, according to the study published in the Journal of Public Health.
The number of young girls who blame drink for losing their virginity has risen from 2.4 per cent in the 1940s to 6.4 per cent today.
And official statistics show that the total number of abortions has soared in a generation to reach the highest level in Europe, with around 200,000 now carried out every year in England and Wales.
In 1969, there were 5.3 terminations per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. By 2008, the rate had more than tripled to 18.3 per 1,000 women, according to the Office for National Statistics - with the rise particularly marked among teenagers.
Meanwhile, figures released by the Office for National Statistics show binge drinking among women has doubled in the last ten years.
The sharpest rise in the proportion of women who drink to excess was between 1998 and 2006, when the proportion rose from 8 per cent to 15 percent.
And last year a fifth of all women reported that they were drinking more than 15 units a week.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "We have known for years that excessive alcohol use is linked to unprotected sex which can increase the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections.
"I have seen an increase in patients at my surgery with alcohol problems and from young women requiring emergency contraception over the last few years.
"Alcohol misuse is now a huge problem and is costing the NHS millions every year.
"We should be screening patients for alcohol problems and then offering them brief interventions, which we know can help to tackle the problem."
Campaigners say teachers and parents are failing to educate young women about the consequences.
Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: "These findings reinforce the fact that parents can never afford to take a casual, laid-back approach to alcohol.
"It is important that they set an example of moderation in their own drinking habits and exercise control over their children's exposure to alcohol. The importance of a stable family background and responsible parenting can never be overstated."