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February 08, 2019

A new drunken study myth-busts the 'beer before wine' hangover theory

Just in time for your weekend festivities

Adult Health Alcohol
alcohol unsplash Helena Yankovska/Unsplash

The phrase “Beer before liquor, never been sicker; liquor before beer, you're in the clear” is practically engraved into college freshmen’s orientation pamphlets as if a warning for the years to come.

But a new study turns this handy hangover-beating phrase into folklore by proving it doesn’t matter how you drink what you drink.

The study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition took more than two years to plan and get approved. Nearly 300 participants volunteered to get drunk for science, with 90 ultimately passing the selection criteria and completing all parts of the study, Forbes reports.


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Participants were split randomly into three study groups: The first drank beer then wine, the second drank wine then beer and the third group had people drinking exclusively wine or beer, with no mixing. A week later, the study groups were asked to come back and drink in reverse order, or in the case of the third group, to switch beverages, per CNBC.

The participants were given a lot of alcohol – two-and-a-half pints of beer and four large glasses of wine – far more than is recommended as healthy by guidelines from most countries and would be considered "binge drinking."

The researchers then asked people to rate how drunk they felt, scoring themselves between 0 and 10 at the end of each study day and also noted whether they vomited or not. Participants then rated their hangover the next day, using the Acute Hangover Scale (AHS), which is based on factors including: thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite, Forbes notes.

According to the study, changing the order of the drinks made no little to difference to the pain or discomfort of those in the medical trial and sticking to one or the other drink offered little AHS change either, CNBC reports. It was noted that women in the groups tended to suffer more than men.

“The only reliable way of predicting how miserable you’ll feel the next day is by how drunk you feel and whether you are sick. We should all pay attention to these red flags when drinking,” said Dr. Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at the University of Cambridge and senior author of the study.

“Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember that they do have one important benefit, at least: they are a protective warning sign that will certainly have aided humans over the ages to change their future behavior. In other words, they can help us learn from our mistakes," Hensel explains.

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