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Smoking while drinking may increase chances of getting a hangover

Here's another reason why picking up that cigarette while drinking is a bad idea: It may give you a worse hangover.

According to a study published Dec. 5 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, college students who enjoy cigarettes during a night of heavy alcohol consumption are at a greater risk of having a hangover the next morning compared to students who skip the cigarette.

On average, people will get a hangover once their blood alcohol level reaches 0.11 percent, researcher Dr. Damaris J. Rohsenow, a professor of behavioral science at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in Providence, R.I., said to HealthDay. However, 20 to 25 percent of people who reach this point won't have to deal with the misery.

Researchers surveyed 113 college students on the Web about their drinking and smoking habits and whether they experienced hangovers over an eight-week period. They discovered that out of the students who drank heavily -- about five or six beers an hour - those who smoked more on the same day had a higher chance of getting a hangover than those who didn't.

"At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers," Rohsenow said in a press release.

However, the hangovers tended to be mild even with the smokers.

"It's not a whopping effect," she said to HealthDay.

The researchers don't know why the smokers had worse hangovers, but they believe that nicotine receptors in the brain are involved in influencing our drinking levels. Nicotine increases the release of dopamine, a chemical that increases pleasure and reward feelings.

Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk
Hangover headache? 10 tips to reduce your risk

Amanda Sandford, research manager at Action on Smoking and Health, told the BBC that the researchers might not be far off.

"Since alcohol and tobacco both interact with receptors in the brain it is not so surprising that smoking appears to increase the risk of a hangover in people who consume both substances," she said.

In order to ward off the hangover, Rohsenow suggested to HealthDay to drink lots of water and take a painkiller with aspirin or ibuprofen, but not acetaminophen (Tylenol), because it can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol. Drinking more to keep the hangover at bay, however, hasn't been studied, and seems counterintuitive, she pointed out.

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