Giving up alcohol may boost mental well-being: Study

Men and women who were lifetime abstainers from alcohol had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the study. Representational image: Pixabay.

Women who quit alcohol may have an improved health-related quality of life, especially their mental well-being, according to a study unveiled on Monday (July 8).

“More evidence suggests caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet,” said Michael Ni from the University of Hong Kong (HKU). The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included 10,386 people from the FAMILY Cohort in Hong Kong who were nondrinkers or moderate drinkers between 2009 and 2013.

Moderate drinkers meant 14 drinks or less per week for men and seven drinks or less per week for women. The researchers compared their findings with data from a representative survey of 31,079 people conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the US.

The mean age of participants in the FAMILY Cohort was 49 years and 56 per cent were women. About 64 per cent of men were nondrinkers (abstainers and former drinkers) and almost 88 per cent of women were nondrinkers.

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,” said 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,” Ni said.