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Abstaining from alcohol for 'dry January' reduces liver damage and blood pressure, study finds

The research also reported an improvement in the resistance of glucose and insulin among individuals

Serina Sandhu
Monday 26 October 2015 13:04 GMT
Liver damage is reduced by 12.5 per cent if a subject gives up alcohol for four weeks
Liver damage is reduced by 12.5 per cent if a subject gives up alcohol for four weeks (Getty)

Abstaining from alcohol for one month significantly reduces an individual's blood pressure and cholesterol, a new study has found.

Researchers from University College London monitored more than 100 men and women in their 40s who took part in Alcohol Concern’s “dry January” campaign. They found that refraining from a tipple also lowered the subjects' risk of developing liver disease and diabetes.

According to the study - funded by the Royal Free's hospital and charity and Islington Public Health - liver damage was reduced by 12.5 per cent and resistance to insulin came down by 28 per cent.

The subjects also lost weight after four weeks without alcohol.

Professor Kevin Moore, of the Royal Free Hospital, recommended that everyone who drank alcohol should give it up for four weeks.

He told The Independent: “When you give up alcohol [for one month] … there is a significant reduction in blood pressure, a significant reduction in cholesterol, [and] an improvement of glucose and insulin resistance which has a major impact on both maturity onset diabetes as well as the development of fatty liver disease.”

“If [a clinical trial] had a drug that lowered blood pressure by the amount we’ve observed in those that stopped drinking alcohol, the company would be excited beyond belief. If they then also found it reduced cholesterol, they would be doubly excited… it’s such a good story, there’s no drugs that do that.”

He said researchers were currently analysing whether subjects went back to drinking alcohol to the same level as before they completed “dry January”, adding that he was unsure whether or not the health benefits would be sustained if they did.

The research follows a similar study where 10 journalists from the New Scientist magazine were also monitored after taking part in "dry January". Professor Moore said subjects had “a substantial improvement” in the quality of their sleep as a result.

Alcohol warning for over-65s

Dr Gautam Mehta, a liver specialist who oversaw the study, will present the data at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in two weeks time.

“I am excited. There are some findings that will be pretty novel. 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," Dr Mehta told the Daily Mail.

The study has not yet been published in full and is still subject to review and revision.

Additional reporting by PA

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