New Study Confirms Benefits of Dry January

By Amanda Sangster - January 08, 2024

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shed light on the significant impact alcohol has on cancer risk, emphasizing the benefits of cutting back, as well as avoiding it completely. The study revealed compelling evidence that reducing or eliminating alcohol intake can substantially decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

The study’s findings, published late last year, are timely as many embark on Dry January, a New Year’s resolution committing to 31 days of sobriety. The results provide valuable insights into the potential health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption in the long term and abstaining.

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"Alcohol use is the third leading modifiable factor that increases cancer risk after cigarette smoking and excess body weight. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer."

- Dr. Sylvia Crowder, Health Outcomes and Behavior Program

The report highlights that even a single glass of alcohol per week can increase the risk for at least six types of cancer: oral, esophageal, colorectal, stomach, breast and liver. The research found that stopping alcohol consumption for five to nine years was shown to reduce oral cancer risk by 34%.

The study also revealed that reducing or eliminating alcohol intake was linked to a 15% to 65% relative risk reduction for esophageal cancer, depending on the duration of cessation. However, to conclude whether the same risk reduction applies to other cancer types like colorectal, breast and liver, researchers say more data is needed.

Dr. Sylvia Crowder, a nutrition researcher in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Health Outcomes and Behavior Program, emphasized that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption as alcohol is a known carcinogen. Research already suggests that cancer treatment outcomes may be poorer for patients who consume alcohol excessively.

“The link between alcohol consumption and cancer can’t be overlooked,” Crowder explained. “Alcohol use is the third leading modifiable factor that increases cancer risk after cigarette smoking and excess body weight. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer.”

As more individuals embrace resolutions like Dry January, the study’s findings serve as a reminder of the potential health advantages associated with minimizing alcohol consumption.

“Embracing resolutions like Dry January is a great start for anyone looking to continue healthier habits throughout the year,” added Crowder.

5 BENEFITS OF DRY JANUARY

  • Decreased cancer risk, including oral, esophageal, colorectal, breast, stomach and liver cancer
  • Improved outcomes for patients with cancer or those who are in remission
  • Better immunity because alcohol consumption can suppress immune function
  • Improved sleep and higher energy levels
  • Potential weight loss, which decreases your risk of other cancers and comorbidities

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