CORVALLIS, Ore. - Hops used to brew beer may have some health benefits but researchers warn against expecting any significant effect by drinking a few cold ones.
Scientists at Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute have found a class of compounds called flavonids neutralize "free radicals" — rogue oxygen molecules that can damage cells.
One of those flavonids, a compound called xanthohumol, is found only in hops. It may help prevent some forms of cancer, researchers say.
Some beers already have higher levels of flavonids than others. The lager and pilsner beers commonly sold in domestic U.S. brews have fairly low levels of these compounds, but some porter, stout and ale brews have much higher levels.
Still, the level of the compound in beer is generally considered too low to have any significant preventive effect.
"We can't say that drinking beer will help prevent cancer," said Fred Stevens, OSU assistant professor of pharmacy and scientist in the Linus Pauling Institute.
Hops, from a flowering plant, are used by brewers as a bittering agent in beer. Xanthohumol is a yellow substance that was first discovered in hops in 1913.
But its health effects were not known until the 1990s, when Stevens and colleagues started studying the flavonoid compound. In cell cultures and animal studies, xanthohumol targeted various types of cancer, including breast, colon and ovarian.
His original work, along with new developments in the anti-cancer properties of xanthohumol made during the past decade, was reviewed last year in the journal Phytochemistry.
Now Stevens is collaborating with fellow Linus Pauling Institute scientist Emily Ho to investigate the effects of the flavonoid on prostate cancer cells.
"When we give the flavonoid to cancer cells, it seems to slow their growth, which is what you want to do for cancer," said Ho, who is also an assistant professor in OSUs department of nutrition and exercise sciences.
Although the tiny amounts of xanthohumol found in beer have little preventive value, Stevens thinks it may be possible in the future for drug companies to develop pills containing concentrated doses of the flavonoid.
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I've seen a lot of studies on health and alcohol consumption... apparently drinking 1-2 glasses of wine a day can help ward off heart disease and lower your cholesterol.
It was recently discovered that beer has the same positive effects. Of course, moderation is always duly noted...
It's also true that both dark beer and red wine are better for you than lighter beer and white wine. This is part of the reason they say the French have such low cholesterol and instances of heart disease, as compared to Americans. True, they also don't eat as much fast food as us.
Interesting side note from my own personal experiences, and to discredit the absurd education I've received in high school health class. I remember being told in high school that if you have just one drink every day, you are an alcoholic. I couldn't believe this! My parents routinely had one or two glasses of wine every night, and they were hardly alcoholics... in fact, they were quite successful! My father never once even raised his voice when I was growing up.
It was at that moment that I realized that most of what I know, and what I've been taught, is wrong (now I realize it's all political consipiracy).
acsguitar wrote:This is why I love IPA's they are super hopped and they taste awesome
I hate "regular" pale ale beer, i.e. Rolling Rock... but, IPA's are great. Do you know why they're called "India Pale Ales"?
It was created in the 1700's by the British because beer would generally go sour on long voyages to India.
Before refrigeration and pasteurization, the brewer's only weapons against spoilage were alcohol and hops. Alcohol provided an unfriendly environment for microbes and the hops prevented the growth of the bacteria which cause sourness. Therefore high alcohol content and high hopping rates could protect beer from the souring associated with long storage times.