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Men and women from the Lothians are being challenged to lay off alcohol in January to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The charity is launching Dryathlon, its New Year fundraising campaign, and urging people across Edinburgh and the Lothians to sign up now before the festive season gets into full swing.

‘Dryathletes’ pledge to drop the drink for a month and either get sponsored or donate the money they would have spent on alcohol to the charity.

Supporters can register as individuals or set up a team and get their friends, family and colleagues involved to motivate each other along the way.

And for those who find the thought of four weeks off the sauce too daunting, there’s the ‘tipple tax’ which allows the Dryathlete to donate a £20 penalty to compensate for falling off the wagon.

Cancer Research UK launched Dryathlon for the first time last year and was delighted by its success.  More than 33,500 people signed up across the UK and helped raise a fantastic £4 million to help beat cancer.

Every hour, more than three people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland*.

Dryathlon is a great way to raise money for life-saving research to help more men, women and children in the region survive.

Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK spokesperson in Scotland, said: “We were thrilled with the number of people who embraced Dryathlon at the start of 2013 and raised money for crucial research.  Now registration has opened for January 2014 we want to encourage everyone who took part last time to sign up again, as well as enlisting as many new recruits as possible.”

“Christmas is the time when most of us would admit our willpower is at its weakest.  So, with this in mind, we’re encouraging everyone to commit to Dryathlon now, so they have a firm New Year’s resolution in place when their resolve picks up on January 1.”

Last time around 52 per cent of Dryathletes were male, just edging ahead of the 48 per cent of female participants.

Linda continued: “Giving up alcohol for a month is a great test of willpower and we know it will be a challenge for some, so we are adding an extra element of competition by daring North-east guys to ‘man-up’ and go head-to-head with the girls.”

One group of people who don’t lack willpower are the world-class Cancer Research UK scientists, doctors and nurses striving to beat cancer.  Survival rates for the disease in the UK have doubled over the past 40 years and the charity has been at the heart of that progress. But it needs more funds and more supporters if it is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

In Scotland, Cancer Research UK invested around £34million last year. This is only possible thanks to those who support the charity and the generosity of the people who took part in events like Dryathlon.

To sign up now and take on Dryathlon in January, visit www.dryathlon.org