Taking A Month Off Booze Has 'Staggering' Health Benefits

By May Wilkerson 10/26/15

The health benefits of stopping drinking are noticeable almost immediately.

Man Refusing Alcohol

It’s too late for sober October. But though it doesn’t rhyme, you may want to consider a sober November. New research suggests laying off booze for a month can have “staggering” benefits for your health, including repairing liver damage, lowering blood pressure. and cutting weight.

A study from the United Kingdom’s Royal Free hospital examined 102 relatively healthy patients over the course of their participation in a “Dry January” campaign. The women had been drinking an average of 29 units of alcohol a week (about 10 glasses of wine or beer), nearly twice the recommended guidelines, and the men had been drinking about 31 units, 10 too many.

Four weeks later, researchers found the participants’ liver damage had been reduced by 12.5%, and their diabetes risk was down 28%. They had also lost weight, their blood pressure had dropped, and many reported enhanced sleeping and ability to focus. Researchers said their risk of developing cancer was lower as well.

“This evidence confirms what a growing number of other studies have shown, that having even just one month off from alcohol has incredible health benefits,” said Tom Smith of the U.K. charity Alcohol Concern.

Gautam Mehta, a liver specialist who oversaw the study, said the findings are important since they highlight how much a period of abstention from alcohol can improve one’s health. However, it remains unknown how long these benefits could last if a person returns to drinking.

In general, experts recommend that women drink no more than three drinks a day and a max of seven per week, while men should not exceed four a day or 14 in a week.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.