Many of us may avoid downing hard alcohol, wine, and beer on the same night for fear of a raging hangover the next day. But at the BBC, a review of existing research on the topic suggests the drinks’ variety itself isn’t the problem. Instead, Claudia Hammond points to other possible factors. For instance, she notes, having several different types of drinks may simply mean drinking more total alcohol. (As for “beer before liquor, never been sicker”? It appears no research has been done to prove or disprove the idea that drink order makes a difference.)
“The existing evidence suggests that hangovers can’t be blamed on mixing drinks,” Hammond writes.
But the amount of alcohol may not be the only culprit: Congeners, the non-ethanol products of the fermentation process, also contribute to a hangover. Tannins, for instance, are responsible for the color in darker types of alcohol. There are 37 times more congeners in bourbon than in vodka, and one study found that bourbon drinkers reported worse hangovers than those who drank vodka. So, Hammond writes, people having various types of drinks in a single night may end up indulging in drinks with more tannins.
So go ahead and mix types of alcohol if you so desire, but you may want to avoid mixing alcohol with cigarettes: A study last month found that people who smoke and drink are at a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, Science Daily reported. (If you do find yourself with a hangover, you may want to reach for a Sprite.)
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