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How do you avoid a hangover? Drink less alcohol

Published 29/08/2015

There is no escaping a hangover if you drink too much, say scientists
There is no escaping a hangover if you drink too much, say scientists

Whisper it quietly, but there is no cure for a hangover.

That is the conclusion of scientists who conducted an in-depth study of morning-after experts - university students.

They found that contrary to what many people believe, there is no escaping the consequences of drinking to excess. If boozing is your vice, you pay the price.

The research showed that eating and drinking (water) made no meaningful difference to the way students felt after a night of carousing.

A group of 826 Dutch students were questioned about their latest heavy drinking session and asked if they had followed it by consuming food or water.

Just over half said they had eaten after drinking - but this had little impact on the severity of their hangovers.

Lead scientist Dr Joris Verster, from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, said: "Those who took food or water showed a slight statistical improvement in how they felt over those who didn't, but this didn't really translate into a meaningful difference.

"From what we know from the surveys so far, the only practical way to avoid a hangover is to drink less alcohol."

In addition, the study found that so-called seasoned drinkers who boast of being immune to hangovers are deluding themselves.

An estimated 25% to 30% of drinkers maintain they can down unlimited amounts of beer or wine safe in the knowledge that they will wake up refreshed and clear-headed the next day.

But according to the study, they could be accused by some of being lightweights.

The scientists calculated the blood alcohol levels of another group of 789 Canadian students who were questioned about their drinking in the previous month.

They found that four fifths (79%) of those who claimed not to experience hangovers had actually drunk less than they thought.

Their average post-drinking blood alcohol level was less than 10%. While still around twice the safe driving limits of many European countries, it was not enough to lay them low the next day.

"In general, we found a pretty straight relationship; the more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover," said Dr Verster. "The majority of those who in fact reported never having a hangover tended to drink less - perhaps less than they themselves thought would lead to a hangover."

The results of the study were presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology's annual meeting in Amsterdam.

Commenting on the research, psychologist Dr Michael Bloomfield, from University College London, said: "Throughout the world the economic and social costs of alcohol abuse run into hundreds of billions of euros per year. It's therefore very important to answer simple questions like 'how do you avoid a hangover?'

"Whilst further research is needed, this new research tells us that the answer is simple - 'drink less'."

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