Smoking ‘worsens hangovers’

Published on December 14, 2012 at 9:15 AM · No Comments

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

People who smoke more than usual on the same day as drinking heavily are at increased risk for a hangover the following morning, with heavier smoking leading to a worse hangover, researchers say.

Damaris Rohsenow (Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA) and team found that while smoking and drinking on the same day significantly increased hangover odds in college students, they were significantly more likely to report hangover symptoms if they smoked heavily (>10 cigarettes) and reached an estimated blood alcohol concentration of 110 mg/dL, equivalent to five or six cans of beer in an hour.

The researchers say in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs that the association cannot simply be due to the fact that the students smoked more when they drank more. "At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers," remarked Rohsenow in a press statement.

The study involved 113 college students who recorded their drinking and smoking habits using a daily web-based 26-item survey for 8 weeks to assess prior-day alcohol and tobacco use as well as current-day hangover symptoms.

Hangover symptoms (tiredness, headache, nausea, weakness, and impaired concentration) were scored on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely) for each and the mean score was taken to provide a composite hangover scale.

The study controlled for potential confounders including drug use in the past year, and showed that smoking itself was linked to an increased risk for a hangover compared with no smoking at all. This implies that there may be a direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangover risk, said Rohsenow.

Rohsenow explained that previous research has shown nicotine receptors in the brain are involved in a person's subjective response to drinking. For example, smoking and drinking at the same time boost the release of dopamine.

Rohsenow also pointed out that hangovers are known to affect short-term attention span and reaction time, and therefore it may be unwise to drive or work in safety-sensitive occupations with a hangover.

She concluded that although there are many reasons to avoid both smoking and heavy drinking, the findings of her study suggest that if smokers indulge in heavy alcohol use, they must cut down on cigarette use.

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