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December 30, 2009

4 Myths About Your Partying and Drinking Habits

Red Bull, hookah bars, and more: What’s true, what’s not.

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Photo Credit: Philip Gay

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1. HOOKAHS ARE SAFER THAN CIGARETTES.
False. A typical hookah session lasts 45 minutes, so you’re exposed to at least 50 times more smoke than if you lit one cigarette. Plus, “water-pipe smoke contains about eight times the carbon monoxide, nearly two times the nicotine, and 36 times the tar of a cigarette,” says Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., at the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

2. YOU CANCEL OUT THE EFFECTS OF PARTYING IF YOU “PRE-TOX” DURING THE WEEK.
False. “One drink a day can be good for you,” says Lisa R. Young, R.D., Ph.D., author of The Portion Teller. “But if you skip Wednesday and Thursday, that doesn’t mean you can have three drinks on Friday and toast to your health,” she says. “Your body (namely, your liver) can’t handle so much alcohol at once, even if you didn’t drink for a few days beforehand.”

3. DIET SODA MIXERS GET YOU WASTED FASTER.
True. Recent research found that alcohol mixed with diet soda resulted in higher blood-alcohol concentrations than when the alcohol was mixed with regular soda. Researchers think sugar may slow the absorption of alcohol, says Lee M. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the MGH Weight Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. So far, the effect has only been studied in men.

4. MIXING RED BULL AND LIQUOR LETS YOU PARTY LONGER.
True. Red Bull and other caffeinated drinks let you party longer — but not smarter. They make you feel like you’re alert but don’t reduce the real effects of alcohol, including slower physical and visual reactions. And be extra careful: They can make you think you can drive when you’re actually seriously impaired.


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