Women who give up alcohol have better mental health, study finds

Research suggests total abstinence leads to ‘favourable change in mental wellbeing’

Researchers also suggest quitting may improve overall health-related quality of life
Researchers also suggest quitting may improve overall health-related quality of life

Women can boost their mental health by giving up alcohol completely, medical researchers have said.

Despite recommendations that moderate drinking can be part of a healthy diet, new findings suggest people who abstain enjoy the highest level of mental wellbeing.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), compared teetotallers with moderate consumers of alcohol – 14 drinks or fewer for men and seven or fewer for women.

Those who never drink alcohol had the highest level of mental wellbeing at the start of the five-year analysis. And for female drinkers, quitting was linked to a favourable change in mental health in both Hong Kong and US populations.

Co-author Dr Michael Ni, a brain scientist at the University of Hong Kong, said the evidence “suggests caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet”.

Dr Ni and colleagues said quitting alcohol may improve overall health-related quality of life as well as mental wellbeing, especially for women.

His team looked at 10,386 participants from the FAMILY Cohort in Hong Kong and 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 US.

The results stood after taking into account socio-demographic factors, BMI (body mass index) and smoking status.

Dr Ni said: “Global alcohol consumption is expected to continue to increase unless effective strategies are employed. 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 wellbeing, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”

The findings will raise further questions over what is a safe and sensible amount to drink. Advice from the UK’s chief medical officer said it is safest for men and women not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week – equal to around six pints of beer or six glasses of wine.

2013: Lindsay Lohan speaks to Oprah about being addicted to alcohol

Another study by the University of Cambridge last year said regularly drinking more than recommended limits is as bad for health as smoking.

They estimated a 40-year-old drinking two pints or glasses of wine a day above guidelines can expect to die two years early and was associated with a higher risk of stroke, fatal aneurysm and heart failure.

Additional reporting by SWNS

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in