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Wine Before Beer Or Beer Before Wine? Scientists Now Have The Hangover Answer

Humans are said to have first encountered booze around 10 million years ago, yet many are still confused about how best to manage hangovers.

So, a team of British and American researchers set out for some answers.

Hangovers occur when our higher-than-normal blood alcohol concentrations drop back to zero -- typically the day after a big night out. The underlying causes include dehydration, our immune response, and disturbances of our metabolism and hormones.

It's not just pure, intoxicating alcohol that's the main culprit either -- colourings and flavourings can make hangovers worse, which might explain why, at the same alcohol concentration, bourbon causes a more severe hangover than vodka.

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Sadly, we don't really know how to cure hangovers either -- hence the existence of catchy rhymes about beer and wine.

The age-old saying goes a little something like this: "beer before wine and you'll be fine; wine before beer and you'll be sick for a year."

So widespread is the belief that the same saying appears in multiple other languages. In Germans it's "Wein auf Bier, das rat' ich Dir -- Bier auf Wein, das lass' sein" while the French say "Bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière."

Sounds great, right?

The thing is -- it's never actually been proven until now, thanks to a team of scientists and a group of boozy test subjects.

The news isn't great, liquor-loving ladies and gin-guzzling gents. Turns out, no matter what type of booze you drink and in what order, if you drink too much of it you're still gonna end up with a sore head.

Researchers at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the UK, recruited 90 thirsty volunteers aged between 19 and 40 years old, which they split into three groups.

Group one threw back enough beer to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent then enough wine to increase their BAC to 0.11 percent. The second group did the same except they drank wine first then beer. Group three, the control group, consumed either only beer or only wine.

A week later, the groups one and two -- now hopefully sobered up -- were switched to the opposite drinking order. The control group subjects also switched -- those who drank only beer the first time around received only wine on the second study day and vice versa.

This switcheroo meant that the groups were not only compared to each other, but each participant was their own control too.

The whole way through the 'experiment' -- which was really just a party, right? -- the tipsy participants were asked to judge their perceived level of drunkenness on a scale between 0 and 10 at the end of each study day.

Before popping to bed, they were given an amount of water tailored to their body weight.

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The following day, the researchers quizzed the no doubt weary participants about their hangover and were given a score from 0-56  on the so-called Acute Hangover Scale which is based on factors including thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite.

Here's the kicker -- the researchers found that none of the three groups had a significantly different hangover score. Sure, the female participants tended to have slightly worse hangovers than men but that was pretty much the only remarkable result that came up.

"We didn't find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover than the other way around," author Jöran Köchling from Witten/Herdecke University said.

The (sad) fact of the matter is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover. So, drink responsibly folks!

Feature image: BBC 3.