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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday June 25 2014, @05:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Under-the-Table dept.

Olga Khazan writes at The Atlantic that hangover research is a bit of a neglected field, but there's a lot hangovers can tell us about our brains, our guts, and the epidemiology of alcoholism. According to researcher Richard Stephens from a health standpoint everyone tends to think that hangovers are a good thing because it stops you from drinking too much, like the natural brake on drinking. And yet, a number of studies have actually shown the opposite. "If hangover is a natural brake on drinking, then alcoholics should get the least hangovers of anyone that the reason they are alcoholic is that they don't have that natural brake on drinking," says Stevens who has been studying hangovers for ten years. "But actually a number of studies in the US have actually shown the opposite, that alcoholics get the most severe hangovers, even when you control for the amount of alcohol consumed. And so it seems like it's a more complex relationship between being at risk of alcoholism and hangovers"

Stevens also says that there's is a biological basis for "the hair of the dog". When you drink alcohol, there's an enzyme in the body that breaks down the ethanol in alcohol into metabolites after you've had a drink of alcohol and felt drunk, once you start to feel sober again, that's because your body has metabolized the ethanol. But once the ethanol has been metabolized, there are usually other alcohols in smaller quantities in alcoholic beverages. One such compound is methanol, and when the body metabolizes methanol, it metabolizes it into toxins formaldehyde and formic acid. And those make you feel ill, sort of poison you a little bit. What's interesting though is that the enzymes in your body that break down alcohols would prefer to break down ethanol first and methanol second. "It means that when you're in a hangover phase, if you drink more alcohol you'll actually stop your body from breaking down methanol and the things that are making you feel ill, and instead go back to working on the ethanol and leave the methanol intact."

Finally, a number of studies show that the severity of hangovers declines with age, a finding that cannot be explained by the usual amount of alcohol consumption, frequency of binge drinking, or the proportion of alcohol consumed with meals. "Hangovers predominantly affect younger, less experienced drinkers," says Stephens. "Younger drinkers in their late teens and 20s are several times more likely to get a hangover than older, more experienced drinkers. In light of links between hangover and risk of alcoholism, younger drinkers should beware."

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  • (Score: 2) by keplr on Wednesday June 25 2014, @05:50AM

    by keplr (2104) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @05:50AM (#59701) Journal

    I volunteer as tribute!

    No, seriously, I'm trashed as hell.

    --
    I don't respond to ACs.
  • (Score: 2) by AnonTechie on Wednesday June 25 2014, @07:29AM

    by AnonTechie (2275) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @07:29AM (#59720) Journal

    Drink more as you grow older.

    --
    Albert Einstein - "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
    • (Score: 2) by SpockLogic on Wednesday June 25 2014, @01:22PM

      by SpockLogic (2762) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @01:22PM (#59850)

      "Avoid Hangovers - Stay Drunk"

      Saw that in a T-shirt. Guy wearing it looked sober, well sober-ish.

      --
      Overreacting is one thing, sticking your head up your ass hoping the problem goes away is another - edIII
    • (Score: 1) by fadrian on Wednesday June 25 2014, @02:54PM

      by fadrian (3194) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @02:54PM (#59889) Homepage

      Drink more as you grow older.

      How can you avoid it?

      --
      That is all.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25 2014, @07:29AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25 2014, @07:29AM (#59721)

    Probably don't need to know this but it might save the sight of somebody if needed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol#Toxicity [wikipedia.org]

    As Paracelsus (1493-1541) already said The dose makes the poison.

  • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Wednesday June 25 2014, @09:41AM

    by Magic Oddball (3847) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @09:41AM (#59759) Journal

    The couple of times I had enough alcohol to get dizzy, I had no emotional effects, developed a mild hangover an hour or so later, and within 3 hours was totally back to normal. The few handfuls of times I had it otherwise, nothing happened at all.

  • (Score: 1) by That_Dude on Wednesday June 25 2014, @10:15AM

    by That_Dude (2503) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @10:15AM (#59769)

    I have never had a hangover.
    I can't get drunk off of beer.
    Mosquitoes love me.

    I might volunteer for a study tying those three together.

    • (Score: 2) by elf on Wednesday June 25 2014, @11:40AM

      by elf (64) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @11:40AM (#59797)

      I don't get hangovers either, I put it down to the fact that I have a fast metabolism and I break down the alcohol quickly and I sleep everything off.

      Interesting read though, I didn't know about the methanol aspect causing toxic chemicals which could in turn cause hangover effects.

      p.s. I can most certainly get drunk on beer :)

    • (Score: 2) by SlimmPickens on Wednesday June 25 2014, @12:49PM

      by SlimmPickens (1056) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @12:49PM (#59834)

      I'm always the last to get bitten. I often wonder why.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25 2014, @05:33PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25 2014, @05:33PM (#59975)

      Maybe mosquitoes love you because you serve great alcoholic blood drinks? ;-)

  • (Score: 2) by SlimmPickens on Wednesday June 25 2014, @11:02AM

    by SlimmPickens (1056) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @11:02AM (#59780)

    My highschool job was a vineyard hand, the winemaker told me that the reason expensive alcohol gives you less of a hangover is the relative lack of methanol.

    We had a 1950's massey ferguson tractor that had no synchro mesh so you had to time the engine speed to the gearbox perfectly. Even though it had two concrete weights on the front wheels the front would still lift up when you had a palette of wine on the forks. You could steer by using left or right breaks applied to the back wheels, but my preferred method was to angle the front wheels and then touch both breaks and kind of bunny hop around corners.

    I used drive that tractor around smoking joints listening to Bob Dylan on my walkman singin "everybody must get stoned!" Best job I ever had!

  • (Score: 1) by Balderdash on Wednesday June 25 2014, @06:20PM

    by Balderdash (693) on Wednesday June 25 2014, @06:20PM (#60000)

    Best way to avoid a hangover is to have a really big glass of water just before going to sleep, and another big glass of water immediately upon waking up.

    Dehydration is 99% of a hangover.

    I have a brother-in-law who works as an EMT in a small rural county. He told me that when an EMT comes into the ambulance shed with a hangover, they stick an IV in and give him a bag of saline. Re-hydrated, no more hangover (mostly).

    --
    I browse at -1. Free and open discourse requires consideration and review of all attempts at participation.