LIFESTYLE

Drinking Alcohol 'More Effective For Pain Relief' Than Paracetamol, Study Finds

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02/05/2017 10:03 BST | Updated 05/05/2017 08:56 BST

Sore head after the weekend? Turns out drinking alcohol could be more effective at relieving pain than paracetamol.

A new study revealed that drinking two pints of beer could reduce pain by up to a quarter.

However they are unsure as to whether alcohol consumption affects brain receptors or simply lowers anxiety, which then reduces our perception of pain.

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The findings, reported in The Journal of Pain, reviewed 18 studies involving more than 400 participants.

The researchers, from The University Of Greenwich, revealed that increasing blood alcohol content to approximately 0.08% (by drinking three to four standard drinks) gives the body “a small elevation of pain threshold” and a “moderate-to-large reduction in pain intensity ratings”.

Researchers also note that this may explain “alcohol misuse” in those with chronic pain.

They wrote: “Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain, despite its potential consequences for long-term health.”

Dr Trevor Thompson, who led the study at London’s Greenwich University, told The Sun: “We have found strong evidence that alcohol is an effective painkiller.

“It can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol.

“If we can make a drug without the harmful side-effects, then we could have something that is potentially better than what is out there at the moment.”

However experts were keen to stress the dangers of alcohol.

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol and Drugs at Public Health England, said: “Drinking too much will cause you more problems in the long run. It’s better to see your GP.” 

Government guidelines recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol per week - that’s six pints of beer or six 175ml glasses of wine. 

The previous guidelines were 21 units for men and 14 units for women per week. An additional recommendation is not to ‘save up’ the 14 units for one or two days, but to spread them over three or more days.

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