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Study: Alcohol can prevent loneliness from killing you

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Just when you think heart disease and car accidents are the world's top killers, a new, depressing study comes out that makes a case for the lethality of loneliness. Lifehacker uses information from Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine to explain the benefits of moderate drinking, and how stress associated with not having anyone to love may lead to an untimely death.

….In Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers followed 1824 people over a total of 20 years, as they aged between 55 and 65. Of those who abstained entirely, 69 percent died. Among those who drank in "moderate" amounts, 41 percent died — which was 23 percent less than the "light" drinkers. Even "heavy drinkers" fared better than abstainers, with just 61 percent passing away during the study period.

Empty statistics on a small set of people? It's possible. Jonah Lehrer, an editor at Wired (who has also written a bunch of really great, easy-to-understand books on human behavior) makes sense of these numbers:

In recent years, sociologists and epidemiologists have begun studying the long-term effects of loneliness. It turns out to be really dangerous. We are social primates, and when we're cut off from the social network, we are more likely to die from just about everything (but especially heart disease). At this point, the link between abstinence and social isolation is merely hypothetical. But given the extensive history of group drinking — it's what we do when we come together — it seems likely that drinking in moderation makes it easier for us develop and nurture relationships. And it's these relationships that help keep us alive.

Pretty intuitive, right? Also noted in the article: drinking can cause Asians to become red in the face, it makes some people's angry/paranoid side come out, and drinking a cup of coffee before your drink may prevent you from sleeping. SCIENCE.