The Guardian view on the science of hangovers: no more research needed | Editorial

Raise a glass, though only one, to the selfless German students and Swedish sailors who have offered up their livers to science

As a recent scientific paper points out, “acute alcohol-induced hangover constitutes a significant, yet understudied, global hazard and a large burden to society”. There can be few readers wholly unaware of this, yet the authors go on to point out that acute hangover-associated symptoms give rise to “reduced productivity, impaired professional performance (eg falling asleep at work), workplace absenteeism, and academic underperformance”. Never on Mondays, of course.

So it is naturally a proper subject for research, especially as there are folk traditions claiming that the order in which one mixes drinks has a bearing on the subsequent hangover. Perhaps these might yield a cure that could be refined in the laboratory, much as the folk wisdom of indigenous peoples is mined by multinational drug companies for pharmacologically active compounds. So research into hangovers turns out to be a thriving subfield of medical science. A trawl through the literature shows that Swedish sailors, Swiss mice, Dutch students and, of course, uncounted American college students have all offered up their livers to bring back knowledge of this scourge. And how they have suffered! The list of symptoms measured by one of the recognised hangover severity scales includes “fatigue, clumsiness, dizziness, apathy, sweating, shivering, nausea, heart pounding, confusion, stomach pain, concentration problems, and thirst”. This is all very much more scientific than the traditional measures employed by such researchers as Chandler (1943), whose PI found a subject explaining that he has “a hangover like seven Swedes”.

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Source : The Guardian view on the science of hangovers: no more research needed | Editorial