If you're one of the 1 in 5 American adults who still smokes, here's another reason to quit -- or at least scale back on days that are likely to end with several drinks: A new study finds that the likelihood of experiencing a hangover after a bout of heavy drinking is greater for those who smoke heavily on the day of their alcohol consumption. Worse still, the new research found that when a day of heavy cigarette smoking leads to a night of heavy drinking, the misery of the resulting hangover is intensified.
The Dutch authors of the latest study believe they have captured something more than a commonly observed social coincidence: that heavy drinkers tend also to be smokers. Instead, they suggest that nicotine or other smoke constituents which accumulate in a smoker's nervous system may interact with alcohol to produce a particularly punishing next-day experience.
The study came out this week in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The intensifying effect of tobacco smoke on hangovers was unmistakable when the bout of drinking was especially heavy: when subjects attained a blood alcohol level of more than 110 mg/dl (or .11%), which would be legally intoxicated in any U.S. state. To do so, a 140-pound person would have to consume more than six bottles of beer in two hours.