Quitting alcohol proven to significantly boost mental health in women

The debate as to whether moderate drinking is good, bad, or has no effect on health has been on-going for years. Now, a new study suggests that people, especially women, who give up alcohol can experience better mental health and reach levels of well-being almost on a par with those of lifelong abstainers

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Many people drink socially at, for instance, work functions or family events. Some of us may also relish having a glass of wine or beer with our dinner at the end of a long and tiring day.

Numerous people fall into the categories of ‘light’ or ‘moderate’ drinkers. But is this habit harmless, or would all of us be better off abstaining from alcohol?

There are issues surrounding the link between alcohol consumption and mental health. While doctors know that overindulging in alcohol can affect mental well-being, it remains unclear whether people who drink moderately would fare better by becoming teetotalers.

Now, a study from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has found that adults, and women in particular, who completely give up drinking experience a boost in mental well-being. The study’s results appear in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“More evidence suggests caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet,” notes study co-author Dr Michael Ni.

The study carried out by Dr Xiaoxin Yao, Dr Michael Ni, Dr Herbert Pang and colleagues at HKU included 10 386 people from the FAMILY Cohort in Hong Kong who were non-drinkers or moderate drinkers (14 drinks or less per week for men and 7 drinks or less per week for women) between 2009 and 2013.

The researchers compared their findings with data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a representative survey of 31 079 people conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States.

The mean age of participants in the FAMILY Cohort was 49 years and 56% were women.

About 64% of men were non-drinkers (abstainers and former drinkers) and almost 88% of women were non-drinkers. Men and women who were lifetime abstainers had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the study (baseline).

For women who were moderate drinkers and quit drinking, quitting was linked to a favourable change in mental well-being in both Chinese and American study populations.

These results were apparent after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, body mass index, smoking status, and other factors.

“Global alcohol consumption is expected to continue to increase unless effective strategies are employed,” says Dr Ni. “Our findings suggest caution in recommendations that moderate drinking could improve health-related quality of life. Instead, quitting drinking may be associated with a more favourable change in mental well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”

Source: Medical Xpress