AMSTERDAM, Holland, Tuesday September 1, 2015 – A new Dutch study suggests that neither flushing out your system with water nor using food as blotting paper after a night of heavy drinking will improve your sour stomach and sore head the next day.
Likewise, neither lining your stomach with milk ahead of a bout of alcoholic excess, nor indulging in the proverbial “hair of the dog that bit you” after the binge, are likely to achieve the desired effect.
Instead, the study that spelled bad news for boozers concluded that the only proven way to prevent a hangover is to drink less alcohol.
In an attempt to find out whether hangovers could be eased, or if some people were genuinely immune to them, a team of international researchers from the Netherlands and Canada surveyed the drinking habits of more than 1,600 students.
Among 826 Dutch students, 54 per cent ate food after drinking alcohol, including fatty food and heavy breakfasts, in the hope of staving off a hangover.
With the same goal in mind, more than two-thirds of the Dutch students drank water while drinking alcohol and more than half drank water before going to bed.
While these groups showed a minimal improvement in how they felt compared with those who hadn’t drunk water, there was no real difference in the severity of their hangovers.
Earlier research suggested that about 25 per cent of drinkers claimed never to get hangovers, so the researchers questioned 789 Canadian students about their drinking in the previous month and the hangovers they experienced.
Their findings indicated that those who did not get a hangover simply consumed “too little alcohol to develop a hangover in the first place.”
But among those students who drank heavily, with an estimated blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.2 per cent, almost no-one was immune to hangovers.
The study’s lead author, Dr Joris Verster from Utrecht University, said the relationship was pretty straightforward.
“The more you drink, the more likely you are to get a hangover.
“Drinking water may help against thirst and a dry mouth, but it will not take away the misery, the headache and the nausea.”
According to Dr Verster, part of the problem is that scientists still do not know what causes a hangover.
“Research has concluded that it’s not simply dehydration – we know the immune system is involved, but before we know what causes it, it’s very unlikely we’ll find an effective cure,” he said, adding that the next step was to carry out more controlled trials on hangovers.
The paper was presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Amsterdam.
The BBC reports that Dr Michael Bloomfield, from University College, London, said the economic costs of alcohol abuse ran into hundreds of billions of euros every 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.”