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We've long been told to drink eight glasses of water a day - but that may not be necessary.

Penn researchers Stanley Goldfarb and Dan Negoianu reviewed research on water intake and concluded that there is no reliable scientific data to support the idea that drinking those eight glasses makes a person healthier.

"It always seemed that all these people carrying around water bottles all the time was a little foolish," Goldfarb said. "It's wasteful."

The findings of the doctors - both of Penn's renal-electrolyte and hypertension division - were recently published in an editorial in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The review outlined the "four major myths" about the benefits of excess water consumption. The ideas that extra water helps kidneys rid the body of toxins, improves skin tone, helps in weight management and relieves headaches are all unfounded, they argue.

Thomas Kleyman, a doctor in the renal-electrolyte division at the University of Pittsburgh, said Goldfarb and Negoianu's findings are "consistent with what we know regarding kidney physiology and water homeostasis."

However, Goldfarb and Negoianu acknowledge that humans need water and that people who live in hot climates or exercise for long periods of time need more water than others. But rather than forcing oneself to consume eight glasses of water a day, they simply recommend people drink when they are thirsty.

Although the doctors found conclusive evidence to support the myths about the benefits of drinking those eight glasses a day, Goldfarb and Negoianu conceded that "there is also no clear evidence of lack of benefit."

College junior Julie Johnson said she drinks two to four bottles of water per day, which she said she believes is a healthy habit.

"I feel pretty healthy most of the time," she said.

But this could be explained by the placebo effect some people may feel, Goldfarb explained.

"If some water is good, then people think a lot of it must be better," he said.

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