The old wives' rhymes we tell ourselves about responsible alcohol consumption have basically nothing to do with reality, a new study on drinking has found.
Scientists in the United Kingdom and Germany have joined forces to answer an age-old mystery: whether the expression "beer before wine and you'll feel fine; wine before beer and you'll feel queer" has any merit.
In total, the study group volunteers drank an average of 2.5 pints of lager (beer), and four glasses of white wine.
All participants were asked to self-assess how drunk they were at the end of each experiment via a questionnaire.
Volunteers were split into three groups.
The test was then repeated a week later but the order in which each group consumed their drinks was reversed, and the control group drank whichever alcohol they hadn't had the first time.
Scientists from the Herdecke University, Germany, and the University of Cambridge said the order of the two drinks made no difference to the severity of hangovers felt by participants.
"The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover".
One week later, participants in the first two groups were switched to imbibe the opposite drinks, as were the control subjects who initially drank either beer or wine.
A joint study by researchers from the Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom put the old sayings to the test, using 90 volunteers split into three groups. All remained under medical supervision the night after their drinking sessions.
But more importantly, the next day the participants were asked about their hangover and given a score on a devised hangover scale, based on factors including thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, stomach ache, nausea, loss of appetite, and an increased heart rate. This way, the groups were not only compared to each other, but each participant was their own control, too.
The researchers found that none of the three groups had a significantly different hangover score with different orders of alcoholic drinks, but women did tend to have slightly worse hangovers than men. "The only reliable way of predicting how miserable you'll feel the next day is by how drunk you feel and whether you are sick", Jöran Köchling of Witten/Herdecke University said. However, vomiting and perceived drunkenness were associated with more severe hangover, the study authors said.
Experts say the best way to avoid a brutal hangover is to drink in moderation.
"In other words, they can help us learn from our mistakes".