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The Case for Not Drinking This January

Photograph by Twenty20

More women are drinking now than at any time in recorded history. We live in a culture that supports the need for wine at all times. Just look at "The Real Housewives" franchise, or your Facebook feed around 5 every night.

According to the Wine Institute, women are buying 800 million gallons of wine sold in the U.S. annually. We are wine's primary drinkers.

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Between 1998 and 2007, the number of women arrested for drunken driving rose 30 percent, while male arrests dropped more than 7 percent. And if you think it can't be you, well, consider this:

Gallup pollsters have repeatedly found that the more educated and well off a woman is, the more likely she is to drink. White women are more likely to drink than women of other backgrounds. In the past few decades, the percent of women who classify themselves as regular drinkers has risen across the board.

Drinking in moderation is fine, plenty of studies show, but over-consuming is not. Research on the short-term health benefits of taking a break for a month might be a good enough reason to take part in what advocates are calling Dry January.

According to New Scientist, research found that liver fat fell, on average, by 15 percent for those who cut out alcohol for 31 days. (In some study participants, liver fat fell by almost 20 percent.) Fat accumulation on the liver is a known prelude to liver damage and can cause inflammation, resulting in liver disease.

Studies found another surprise. The blood glucose levels of the abstainers dropped by 16 percent on average, from 5.1 to 4.3 millimoles per litre. The normal range for blood glucose is between 3.9 and 5.6 mmol/l.

Abusing alcohol is different then being an alcoholic.

"I was staggered," Kevin Moore, consultant in liver health services at University College London Medical Sschool, said in the New Scientist, which reported on studies of short-term abstinence. "I don't think anyone has ever observed that before."

Last year over 2 million people cut down on their drinking in January and signed up at the website and on the group's Facebook page, where January abstainers can find support. Combing through comments, plenty credited the lack of alcohol to improved sleep, energy, weight loss, clearer skin and saving money. Just think of the non-obvious liver reboot.

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Abusing alcohol is different then being an alcoholic. If you are finding you are thinking about that glass of wine more than you are comfortable with, why not try cutting it out?

I'll be going dry, and I'd love for you to join me. Feel free to contact me through comments on this post.

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