A month of temperance is a detoxing mistake: abstinence makes the liver no stronger

None of Alf’s mates is foregoing booze for a week or two to rectify the medical mischief done by over-indulging over the Christmas-New Year holiday. Nor is Alf.

But it seems some people do go to the other extreme in January and lay off the grog for a month to try to clean out their systems after drinking and eating too much during the festive party season.

Ha! This temporary temperance won’t detox them as they seem to think.

British doctors say the so-called ‘Janopause’ – when drinkers cut out alcohol for only the first month of the year – is ‘medically futile’ and fails to rejuvenate the liver in the long term.

Their advice – which has fortified Alf’s belief in the benefits of maintaining a daily dose of alcohol – is the subject of a Daily Mail report.

The newspaper consulted a bloke at the British Liver Trust, who says abstaining from alcohol altogether for a short period instead creates a false sense of security.

This can then cause people to consume more from February onwards and lead to more significant harm.

And while a month-long break can give the liver a rest, experts warn that it does not heal any damage already caused by regular heavy drinking.

A break can actually pile additional pressure on the organ once drinkers resume their old habits.

Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, is the newspaper’s authority on this matter.

He said:

‘A one-hit, one-month attempt to achieve long-term liver health is not the way to approach it.

‘You’re better off making a resolution to take a few days off alcohol a week throughout the entire year than remaining abstinent for January only.’

The Daily Mail also consulted a Dr Mark Wright, consultant hepatologist at Southampton General Hospital.

He said:

‘Detoxing for just a month is medically futile. It feeds the idea that you can abuse your liver as much as you like and then sort everything out with a quick fix.’

Dr Wright explained that the liver treats alcohol as a poison, and the body needs to be rid of it.

To break alcohol down, the liver produces chemicals known as enzymes.

High levels of enzymes can lead to liver scarring and eventual cirrhosis, which can be fatal.

Alf was somewhat unnerved by this knowledge, and reached for a scotch to wash down his corn flakes.

But he was heartened to read what Dr Wright said next:

‘The liver is fantastic at detoxing – that’s what it does. But if you think giving it a rest will help, you’re wrong.’

Mind you, it looks like wowsers are gaining the upper hand in Britain, which should reduce demands on the services of the Liver Trust.

Their Prime Minister – a Conservative, dammit, and therefore a bloke who should know better – is reported to have ordered officials to draw up a scheme to introduce a minimum price for alcohol in a bid to curb binge drinking.

This idea has been bandied in NZ too, although Alf has never understood why all drinkers should be penalised by measures intended to curb only the bingers.


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