The research was carried by researchers at the University of Hong Kong with participants being a mix of non-drinkers or moderate drinkers – defined as 14 drinks or less per week for men and 7 drinks or less per week for women – who were followed for up to a four-year period between 2009 and 2013.
The findings, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, showed that men and women who do not drink alcohol had the highest level of mental well-being at the start of the study.
They also found that for women moderate drinkers and who quit drinking during the study, quitting was linked to improvements in mental well-being among both Chinese and American participants.
Levels of mental well-being were close to those of lifetime abstainers within four years of quitting.
Starting drinking and persistent moderate drinking during the four years were however, not associated with better mental or physical well-being.
Study author Dr. Michael Ni said: “More evidence suggests caution in recommending moderate drinking as part of a healthy diet.”
“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 well-being, approaching the level of lifetime abstainers.”