Giving Up Alcohol Boosts Mental Health in Women
For women, quitting drinking may be associated with a significant improvement in mental health, according to a study published online today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The findings come from a comparison of two population-based cohorts, which together comprised more than 40,000 people. In both cohorts, lifetime abstainers reported the highest levels of mental well-being at baseline, but women who started out as moderate drinkers and quit during the 4-year study period experienced the greatest improvements in mental health, such that their well-being ultimately approached that of the abstainers.
Mental health also improved among men who quit drinking, but the results were not statistically significant, note Xiaoxin I. Yao, PhD, School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, and colleagues.
The findings add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that moderate drinking may not improve health-related quality of life, said coauthor Michael Y. Ni, MD, MPH, of the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health and The State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, in a news release. “Instead, quitting drinking may be associated with a more favourable change in mental well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”
The researchers analyzed data from adults participating in the FAMILY Cohort study, which is a territory-wide analysis of factors that contribute to the well-being of citizens in Hong Kong. Yao and colleagues used data from waves 1 and 2 of the cohort, which were conducted from 2009 to 2013.
To account for cultural differences, the authors also analyzed data from the US National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), which was designed to assess the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and comorbid conditions among adults in the United States. The researchers used data waves 1 and 2, conducted from 2001 to 2005.
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