The darker the liquor, the more painful the hangover

Here is some useful information for the upcoming holiday festivities. A new study finds that the type of liquor you drink could affect how severe your hangover will be the following morning. In addition to producing alcohol, the fermenting process creates a toxic byproduct called congeners. Typically darker liquors have a higher concentration of congeners and according to researchers, this leads to a more painful hangover. TIME reports this study found that bourbon has 37 times more congeners than vodka.

The study consisted of 95 people between the ages of 21 and 35 – all were heavy drinkers, but had no history of alcohol abuse. The study’s news release reports that the drinkers took part in one acclimatization night, followed by two nights of drinking. On one night, the participants were served either bourbon or vodka and kept drinking until their blood alcohol content reached .11. On the other night, they drank a placebo, randomized for both type of alcohol and order.

Those who drank bourbon reported that their hangover was more severe. However, after waiting until their blood alcohol content returned to zero, all of the drinkers regardless of alcohol type were two percent slower on a series of performance tasks than the non-drinking control group.

Lead study author and professor of community health at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University, Damaris J. Rohsenow explains additional findings:

“A third finding was that while alcohol in the beverages made people sleep less well because they woke up more during the night, this was no worse after bourbon than it was after vodka…This means that bourbon’s greater effects on hangover are not due to it having greater effects on sleep. Fourth, people who reported more hangover symptoms also did worse in their ability to pay attention for a continuous period of time while making rapid accurate choices.” points out that the study’s findings may not always hold true. Of course, the hangover will be more severe if your alcohol content exceeds the .11 tested in this study. In addition, usually the darker the liquor, the more congeners; however, the amount of congeners varies greatly with wine and beer.

The study will be published in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

One Response to The darker the liquor, the more painful the hangover

  1. Lee says:

    why would the title of this article be “The darker the liquor, the more painful the hangover”? they only tested two types of alcohol not a variety of colors or even several different types of clear and dark alcohols.

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