Mixing smoking and alcohol can worsen your hangover: study

Smoke and drink
Your morning hangover after a night of drinking could feel a whole lot worse if you were smoking as well, scientists say.

A team of researchers from Brown University found this effect wasn't because smokers drank more but smoking itself was linked to an increased risk of hangover compared with not smoking at all.

"At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers," lead author Dr Damaris Rohsenow, Brown University in the US, said.

Her team controlled for other factors as well, such as whether students reported drug use in the past year.

Rohsenow said the study raises the likelihood that there is some direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangovers, although the exact mechanisms are unclear.

According to Cancer Research, tobacco smoke contains the chemical acetaldehyde which is also formed in your tissues when you drink alcohol and is responsible for many nasty hangover symptoms.

Rohsenow said other research has shown that nicotine receptors in the brain are involved in our subjective response to drinking.

For example, smoking and drinking at the same time boosts the release of dopamine, a 'feel-good' brain chemical. So the fact that nicotine and alcohol are connected in the brain may explain why smoking is tied to hangovers.

The findings were based on a web survey of 113 college students who recorded their drinking and smoking habits, and any hangover symptoms, every day for eight weeks.

Overall, when students drank heavily - the equivalent of five or six cans of beer in about an hour - those who'd smoked more on that same day had higher odds of suffering a hangover the next morning and suffered more when they did.

Symptoms included headaches, feeling more tired than usual, nausea and difficulty concentrating.

Rohsenow said there is also evidence that a hangover affects attention and reaction time in the short term, so it might be unwise to drive or work in safety sensitive occupations with a hangover.

However, no-one is sure yet whether hangovers may signal some type of damage to the brain, but smoking is already known from other studies to aggravate the ill effects on the brain caused by years of heavy drinking.

Rohsenow said the findings, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, suggest that if smokers are going to indulge in heavy drinking, it would be wise to at least cut down on cigarettes.

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