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About Mental Health

Not drinking alcohol may improve the mental health of women, a new study says.

Women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, or quit the habit altogether, have better mental well-being outcomes compared to those who drink. (UPI/Shutterstock/Piyato)

Women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol or quit the habit altogether have better mental well-being outcomes compared to those who keep drinking, according to a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“More evidence suggests caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet,” Michael Ni, a researcher at the University of Hong Kong and study author, said in a news release.

The researchers looked at more than 10,000 moderate drinkers and non-drinkers from a study in Hong Kong between 2009 and 2013. They compared those data with findings for more than 31,000 people in the United States from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

About 88 percent of the women from the Hong Kong study were non-drinkers versus 64 percent of men. People who consumed 14 drinks or less each week and women who consume seven drinks or less are defined as moderate drinkers.

Men and women in the Hong Kong study who never drank alcohol in their lives had the highest state of mental well-being.

“Global alcohol consumption is expected to continue to increase unless effective strategies are employed,” Ni said. “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.”