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Why You Should Quit Drinking for One Month

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Chardonnay and eggnog are both popular holiday drinks but combining them (chardannog?) doesn't sound so tasty—and apparently the combo was so awful, it inspired actress Anne Hathaway to make "Dry January" her New Year's resolution. No matter how you feel about unholy mixology (or Anne Hathaway), scientists say you might want to follow her lead—while skipping booze for the month of January used to be seen as something one did to atone for table dancing at the office holiday party, new research shows that going dry for a short period of time can have serious health benefits.

New Scientist magazine decided to run a Dry January experiment and asked 14 staffers to participate. After filling out a lifestyle questionnaire and undergoing a medical checkup, ten people quit quaffing for 30 days while four kept to their usual beers after work. Afterward, they repeated the questionnaire and blood work.

The results surprised even the scientists. In just 30 days, the sober sippers saw their liver fat—a dangerous precursor to liver damage—drop almost 20 percent. In addition, their blood glucose levels went down 16 percent, thereby significantly lowering their risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This is the first study to show such an immediate drop from going dry, according to James Ferguson, M.D., a liver specialist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in England, in an interview with NPR.

It's as good for your outside as it is for your inside. "People always forget the amount of calories in alcohol, so if you take a month off, and you usually consume 20 units, you're going to lose weight and fat. It's a massive reduction in calories," Ferguson added. (And it's The Weight-Loss Secret You’ve Never Heard.) And the participants said it also bettered their lives by improving their sleep quality and ability to concentrate at work. 

Kevin Moore, a liver health expert who supervised the experiment, called the results staggering, saying, "What you have is a pretty average group of British people who would not consider themselves heavy drinkers, yet stopping drinking for a month alters liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps them lose weight. If someone had a health product that did all that in one month, they would be raking it in."

This news comes at the perfect time: just this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their report on drinking in the U.S. According to their new research, six Americans die every day from alcohol abuse and is a leading killer of people in the prime of their lives. If that's not enough to make you rethink grabbing drinks after work tonight, we don't know what is.

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