Dry January…Is it worth it?!

9th, January 2015

In recent years ‘Dry January’ has been gaining popularity and last year became recognised as a national event, supported by Alcohol Concern. But is it worth it? Dr Aileen McPhillips takes a look at some of the heath benefits of abstaining from alcohol for one month.

After all the Christmas & New Year festivities and over indulgence is it worth considering a month alcohol-free…a whole 31 days with not one drink?!

In recent years ‘Dry January’ has been gaining popularity and last year became recognised as a national event, supported by Alcohol Concern.  Alcohol Concern have been encouraging people to sign up to the campaign and raise money for charity along the way.  In January 2014 17,312 people joined up – compared to just 4,500 in 2013.

But can 31 days alcohol-free really benefit us??

We know excess alcohol raises our risk of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, depression, dementia and some cancers – including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast.  It can also cause weight gain as alcohol is high in calories.  However, for the ‘normal’ drinker can a short break from alcohol have any benefit?

A small study at Royal Free Hospital in London took place to look at 14 people who considered themselves “normal drinkers”.  No changes were observed in those who continued their ‘normal drinking’.  However, in those who abstained from alcohol over the period results were significant – liver fat, cholesterol, blood glucose and weight decreased.  Other positive effects reported included improved sleep quality and increased concentration.

So, for those of you who have taken on Dry January it is certainty worthwhile, you could be seeing and feeling the benefits of improved health over the month.


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