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updated: 1/13/2014 6:12 AM

Your health: Quitting alcohol for a month shows health benefits

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  • A new study shows that taking a month off from drinking alcohol has health benefits for moderate drinkers.

      A new study shows that taking a month off from drinking alcohol has health benefits for moderate drinkers.

 

'Janopause'

Swearing off the booze after the excesses of the festive season has become almost as much of a tradition as taking down the Christmas decorations, reports the Daily Mail.

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But, surprisingly, no medical study has ever been conducted into whether a dry January -- or "Janopause" -- has health benefits for moderate drinkers until now.

New research has shown that quitting alcohol for a month can lower cholesterol, help you lose weight and improve sleep patterns and alertness -- as well as giving the liver a chance to recover, the Daily Mail reports.

"If someone had a health product that did all that in one month, they would be raking it in," liver health consultant Kevin Moore said.

On average, volunteers who abstained from drinking for just over five weeks shed 3.3 pounds and cut cholesterol levels by 5 percent and blood glucose levels by almost a quarter.

The research was prompted by New Scientist journalist Andy Coghlan, who regularly did the "Janopause."

He asked an expert what evidence there was of the benefits and was told: "none."

Liver experts have traditionally ignored the benefits of abstinence among moderate consumers, concentrating on problem drinkers.

Coghlan persuaded nine of his colleagues -- all of whom described themselves as "normal" drinkers -- to abstain while four others graciously agreed to keep drinking to act as "controls."

All had fasting blood tests at the start and end of the period, while doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London found liver fat levels fell by 15 percent on average, showing the organ had recovered.

In addition, volunteers slept better and felt more alert at work.

Illinois among states with widespread flu

The number of states reporting widespread seasonal flu activity jumped from 10 to 25 recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, according to CNN.

"Widespread" means that more than 50 percent of geographic regions in a state -- counties, for example -- are reporting flu activity. It addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity.

So far, "it's a typical influenza season, if I can use that word," Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC's flu division, told CNN.

The season usually begins in the winter months and peaks in January or February.

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