I have to admit to being sceptical about “Sober October” or “Dry January.” Not because I don’t see the benefits of quitting alcohol but because those who do it seem to celebrate their month-long sobriety by going out on the 1st of the following month and getting absolutely hammered.
However I might have to admit I was wrong because a new study claims that kicking booze for just one month could prevent serious illness later in life. Researchers from University College London tested participants after a month away from alcohol and found an improvement in their liver function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They were also deemed to be at lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease.
Those who took part in the month of abstinence reported weight loss, improved concentration and a better quality of sleep.
“If you took a drug that reduced blood pressure and improved cholesterol and insulin resistance it would be a blockbuster drug that would be worth billions,” said Professor Kevin Moore, who co-authored the study.
Each of the participants — 102 “relatively healthy” men and women in their 40s — had been drinking more than the government recommended levels prior to the study. The men had been drinking an average of 31 units of alcohol per week, while the women consumed an average of 29 units.
“These subjects were probably average drinkers – they drank in excess of the guidelines. We studied them before and after the dry month,” said Professor Moore. “There was certainly substantial improvement in various parameters of the liver. The other parameters, blood pressure, cholesterol, how well the subjects slept, were also substantial.”
“I am excited. There are some findings that will be pretty novel,” liver specialist Gautam Mehta told the Daily Mail. “It’s an important study which shows the benefit from a month’s abstinence. What we can’t say is how long those benefits are, how durable those benefits are.”
The study hasn’t been published yet but the initial results are being examined by Department of Health officials to assist in the preparation of new guidelines on safe drinking.