Giving up alcohol for January? Your liver may not thank you for it, say experts

Had too much to drink over the seasonal festivities? Thinking about giving up in January to clean out your system? Don't bother, warn medics, it's a waste of time.

Promises to give up alcohol for a week or two, perhaps for a whole month, are common in the New Year but are being described as medically futile.

As drinkers begin their DIY "detox" programmes by giving up alcohol, the British Liver Trust is preparing to launch a series of roadshows designed to focus public attention on the growing problem of liver damage.

Dr Mark Wright, a consultant hepatologist at Southampton General Hospital, claims such short-term abstinence can be damaging because it engenders a false sense of security.

He said: "Detoxing for just a month in January is medically futile. It can lead to a false sense of security and feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything else with a quick fix.

"It makes about as much sense as maxing out your credit cards and overdraft all year, then thinking you can fix it by just eating toast in January. The figures just don't stack up." Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, said: "You are better off making a resolution to take a few days off alcohol a week throughout the entire year than remaining abstinent for January only."

The warning was made as researchers reported that people are kidding themselves in that other area which also tends to crop up in new years resolutions – healthy eating. A study by Slimming World found that almost 20 per cent of people in the UK are "in denial" about being obese.

A quarter of the population falls into the category of being obese but, according to the dieting company's annual survey, only 6 per cent of people believe they are. Dr Jacquie Lavin, head of nutrition and research, said: "This worrying new data reveals the complex psychological issues associated with being overweight."