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Hangovers About Half Genetic, Twin Study Finds

Posted in Research

Hangovers About Half Genetic, Twin Study FindsAnyone who has had a hangover knows the terrible feeling of waking up sick and nauseous, the room spinning and your head pounding. Most of us also have that irritating friend who can drink herself silly and wake up feeling just a slight twinge of a hangover. It turns out that how you experience a hangover, and how bad it is, significantly depends on your genetics. This important finding could shed light on how genes impact alcoholism and how problem drinking and addiction might be prevented.

Hangover and Genetics

Researchers in Australia found the link between genes and hangovers by surveying twins about their drinking habits and resulting hangovers. The study included more than 4,000 adults who were asked how much they drank over the last year, how often they drank, how many hangovers they experienced and how severe those hangovers were. The limitation in this type of research is that it relies on the memories of the participants, but with so many people involved, it can give a clear picture of the relationship between genes and hangovers.

What the researchers found was a strong correlation between the twins who regularly experienced hangovers and those who seemed to be resistant to them. Identical twins share the same genetics, so if their hangovers are similar, it means that genetics play a role. The researchers concluded that genetic components account for hangovers in about 40 percent of the men surveyed and in 45 percent of the women.

Links to Alcoholism

The research is more important than simply demonstrating that some of us can’t help but get a hangover after we drink. What is really important is the possibility of shedding more light on how genes impact our drinking habits and how predisposed we may be to developing alcoholism. The researchers found that the people who had a genetic factor causing them to get hangovers were also more likely to drink excessively. The conclusion is that the same genes impacting hangovers could also be affecting how much and how frequently a person drinks.

The researchers hope to now take the next step and identify the gene or genes that play a role in hangovers. They also want to make more specific connections between the hangover genes and those affecting drinking behaviors. Doing so may help researchers determine which people are more likely to become problem drinkers or alcoholics. It could also help in the development of new treatments for alcoholism.

Other Factors Affecting a Hangover

Genes can only take you halfway when it comes to the intensity and symptoms of your hangover. Other factors play a role as well. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is to abstain from drinking. If you do enjoy the occasional night out at a bar or party, though, understand what can impact the way you feel the next morning. To reduce your chances of having a hangover, drink less. Stick to just two drinks in one night. Add water and food to the menu as well. Dehydration is a big part of a hangover and not eating enough can make you intoxicated more quickly. Also, get a good night’s sleep and you can avoid the worst of a hangover.

It is important to understand more about how alcohol affects the body and mind and how some people become alcoholics while others do not. Finding the genes that impact all aspects of drinking, including hangovers, is crucial. This work could help future generations avoid alcoholism.