Women Who Quit Booze Improve Mental Health
According to a new study women can boost their mental health by quitting alcohol completely.
Despite persisting recommendations by some that “moderate” alcohol use was not harmful to health, new findings suggest people who abstain enjoy the highest level of mental well-being.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), compared individuals who live free from alcohol with low-dose alcohol consumers (14 units or fewer for men and 7 units or fewer for women).
According to the findings:
- Those who never consume alcohol had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the five-year analysis
- For female alcohol users, quitting was linked to a favourable change in mental health in both Hong Kong and U.S. populations.
The researchers said quitting alcohol may improve overall health-related quality of life as well as mental well-being, especially for women.
The study 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 (NIAAA) in the U.S.
The results stood after taking into account socio-demographic factors, BMI (body mass index) and smoking status.
Global alcohol consumption is expected to continue to increase unless effective strategies are employed.
Our findings suggest caution in recommendations that moderate [alcohol use] could improve health-related quality of life,” said Co-author of the study Dr Michael Ni, a brain scientist at the University of Hong Kong.
Instead, quitting [alcohol use] may be associated with a more favourable change in mental well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”
Despite low dose alcohol use guidelines previous research has also found no amount of alcohol is safe for consumption and that any amount would increase risk of diseases, such as cancer and stroke. This new study also adds to the growing body of research showing there is no healthy level of alcohol consumption, and that living free from alcohol is positive for mental well-being and overall health.
Relevance across borders
Although the study involved Hong Kong and U.S. citizens, its findings are relevant to Canadians and people in other countries, too, said Canadian Medical Association Journal senior editor Ken Flegel.
At the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, senior research and policy analyst Catherine Paradis, who was not involved in the study, said the mantra of ″one drink a day keeps the doctor away” has persisted for around 20 years. This message has been based on studies suggesting low doses of alcohol reduce people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
But lately, she said, better-designed studies cast doubt about the health benefits of alcohol.
Now we know that that’s not really the fact,” said Catherine Paradis, as per The Globe and Mail.
More and more, we doubt this idea that there’s this protective effect of [alcohol use].”