“Quitting may be the best way forward for women.”

Women who give up alcohol can experience better mental health.

They can also reach levels of well-being almost the same with those of lifelong abstainers.

A study from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has found that adults, and women in particular, who completely stop drinking will 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," said study co-author Dr. Michael Ni.

As part of the research, the investigators first analysed data collected from 10,386 participants via the FAMILY Cohort study at HKU.

The study says that all of the participants were either nondrinkers or reported drinking moderately. The group included people who used to drink, people who had recently started drinking, persistent drinkers, formerly persistent drinkers, and lifetime abstainers.

First, the investigators observed that people who had never consumed alcohol had the greatest level of mental well-being at baseline. Then, they saw that people who had quit drinking — particularly women — experienced a significant improvement in mental health.

The researchers define moderate drinking as having 14 drinks (196 grams of pure alcohol) or fewer per week, in the case of men, and 7 drinks (98 grams of pure alcohol) or fewer per week, in the case of women.

“When looking at the FAMILY cohort, specifically, the researchers assessed mental well-being using a 100-point scale. When comparing data from women who used to drink with data from female lifetime abstainers, the former had experienced an improvement in mental health that was on average 1.44 points greater than that of the lifetime abstainers during the follow-up period.

"Global alcohol consumption is expected to continue to increase unless effective strategies are employed," warns Dr. Ni.

Ni said that Indeed, recent reports show that alcohol intake has increased by about 70% in almost 30 years, at a global level, and experts believe that this trend will continue.

For this reason, and based on their current findings, the HKU investigators advise individuals to quit alcohol for good.

"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 favorable change in mental well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers," said Dr. Michael Ni.