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5 shocking facts about drinking

By: Good Magazine on Dec. 31, 2010, 2:05 p.m.
Woman with a champagne flute

Photo: Brianna Harden

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Bottoms up

When it comes to health prescriptions, is there anything more controversial than alcohol consumption? It seems that every few months a new study comes out, either praising the health merits of booze or telling you why it’s ruining your life — or at the very least, your liver.

About 64 percent of Americans consume alcohol, a number that has held steady since the first alcohol-related Gallup poll in 1939. What has changed? We’re drinking more often, and some analysts think that’s due in part to a perceived notion that alcohol is good for us — which might be true.

But if you follow the science, things aren’t so cut and dry. On one day liquor is making you fat (so many calories!), the next it’s keeping you thin (drinkers eat less dessert!). It may be causing your depression or it could be your biggest stress buster. For the longest time, conventional wisdom held that the secret was moderation. But then this past August, a new study blew the lid off of that theory too, concluding that even heavy drinkers are likely to outlive non-drinkers.

Don’t believe us? Click through the gallery to learn more about these shocking — and totally contradictory — studies about America’s favorite poison.

A version of this story originally appeared on GOOD. Read it here.