Tips for making “Dry January” a success

Many people across Wisconsin are ringing in 2022 by participating in “Dry January,” choosing to go alcohol-free for for the first month of the new year.

The WCC’s own Noelle LoConte, MD, medical oncologist at UW’s Carbone Cancer Center, recently spoke with news outlets across the state, explaining how “Dry January” can be a tool for reducing cancer risk and offering tips to help participants succeed.

Why it matters

We know that alcohol use can increase risk for at least seven types of cancer. And studies have shown sharp increases in alcohol use during the pandemic. Monthlong challenges like “Dry January” can be a helpful tool to reset a person’s relationship to alcohol and develop healthier habits.

Tips for success

For patients who are participating in Dry January or for anyone who wants to re-examine their alcohol intake, Dr. LoConte offers the following tips:

  • If and when you drink, try to maintain moderate drinking or less. Moderate drinking is defined as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men.
  • Talk to your physician if you are struggling with alcohol dependence, addiction, or overuse to get resources and support for cutting back or quitting.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water whenever you are drinking alcohol.
  • Try to regularly replace alcohol with healthier alternative beverages like water, tea, and juice, or try mocktails or non-alcoholic beer.
  • Share your goals with family and friends or on social media, to find support and to help keep yourself accountable.
  • Invite friends or family to join you in Dry January. Or connect with an online community for support and encouragement.
  • Avoid binge drinking, which often can happen if you have recently taken a break from alcohol. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and five or more drinks for men.

Bottom line

“There is still a lot we don’t know about the connections between cancer and alcohol, but we do want people to know there is a connection and to be mindful of how much they’re drinking,” Dr. LoConte said.
“The pandemic has led a lot of people to drink more, and we don’t want to see folks live through a pandemic only to come to us as patients with cancer down the line if we can prevent that.”

Explore our tools to raise awareness about alcohol and cancer

See how this connects to the Wisconsin Cancer Plan 2020-2030