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A new study examines the causes of bad hangovers — and how to prevent them

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February 14, 2019 03:46 PM

Everyone knows the old rhymes about how to prevent a hangover by having your alcoholic drinks in a specific order (“Beer before liquor; never been sicker,” “Beer before wine; you’ll be fine,” to name a few) — but how true are they?

Turns out it may not matter what drink you have first, according to a new study by researchers at the Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The study, published in February, examined whether the order of alcohol you drink in a night matters, specifically exploring the age-old advice to drink beer before wine to prevent a hangover.

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The study examined 90 German medical and psychology students ranging from ages 19 to 40. Researchers divided the subjects into three groups.

One group drank about 2.5 pints of beer followed by about four glasses of wine. The second group drank the four glasses of wine first, followed by 2.5 pints of beer. The third group (the control group) drank either only beer or only wine.

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The next morning, every participant rated their hangover symptoms and each was given a score on a scale from 0-56 based on symptoms including thirst, fatigue, nausea, headache and loss of appetite.

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The researchers found no significant difference in hangover score from the people in each of the three groups.

“Using white wine and lager beer, we didn’t find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover than the other way around,” said first author Jöran Köchling in a Cambridge news release.

“The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover. 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 those red flags when drinking.”

“Unpleasant as hangovers are,” senior author Dr. Kai Hensel said, “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.”

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