THURSDAY, Jan. 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — “Dry January” is the self-improvement meme of the moment, with people around the world pledging to take a break from alcohol this month.
“Basically, it’s a New Year’s resolution,” said Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital, in Glen Oaks, N.Y. “You’ve been drinking during the holidays, and the idea is that if you stop drinking for the next month, your life and health would be better in the coming year.”
But does it work? There’s some evidence that having a Dry January might indeed benefit your health.
Dropping alcohol for one month can your lower blood pressure, improve your insulin resistance, decrease your weight, and reduce blood levels of a signaling protein linked to cancer, according to a small study published online in BMJ Open earlier this year.
People who quit drinking for a month also find it easier to lay off the sauce for months afterward, according to a survey conducted by University of Sussex researchers and published Dec. 28.
“The brilliant thing about Dry January is that it’s not really about January,” said Dr. Richard Piper, chief executive officer of Alcohol Change UK, the group that started the annual event.
“Being alcohol-free for 31 days shows us that we don’t need alcohol to have fun, to relax, to socialize,” he said in a statement. “That means that for the rest of the year we are better able to make decisions about our drinking, and to avoid slipping into drinking more than we really want to.”
Alcohol Change UK started Dry January in 2012 with 4,000 people, the group said. In 2018, more than 4 million pledged to go the month of January without drinking.
The event has spread beyond Great Britain, with people using the hashtag #DryJanuary in social media posts to report their participation.
Surveys have shown that 88 percent of participants save money, 71 percent have better sleep, 67 percent have more energy and 58 percent lose weight by the end of Dry January, according to Alcohol Change UK.