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The Boons of Beer

At Oktoberfest celebrations, people around the world raise their mugs to the beauty of beer. Meanwhile, there seems to be an appreciation brewing for lagers and the like in clinical laboratories too.

“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”
—Dave Barry

COLD ONES FOR HOT FLASHES?
Scientists at the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague recently announced that they’ve created a new non-alcoholic beer that may reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. It’s long been known hops naturally contain low levels of the same plant estrogens found in soy; the Czech researchers used new technology to boost the concentration (to ten times that of some lagers).

HOP, HOP HOORAY!
Researchers at Oregon State University in Corvallis have reported that xanthohumol, an antioxidant in hops, may thwart the growth of prostate cancer by triggering the rampant cells to self-destruct. Unfortunately, the dose used in the study equals 17 beers (please don’t try that at home). Upshot: The findings may lead to the development of a hops-derived pharmaceutical treatment.

SOOTHING BREWS
An Austrian study published in 2006 suggests that antioxidants in hops, called humulones, may help to soothe chronic inflammation that is the result of an immune system in overdrive. In recent years, scientists have linked inflammation with a variety of chronic ills, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.

HEARTY ALES
Wine snags a lot of credit for its heart-healthy effects; truth is, moderate consumption of beer provides the same benefits.
Research suggests that it’s the alcohol itself that lowers cardiovascular risk (by reducing inflammation, “thinning” the blood and improving insulin sensitivity).

A BEER FOR THE BONES
In a Tufts University study of 2,900 men and women, people who drank a beer or two a day had higher bone-mineral densities than nondrinkers. Scientists say silicon, a mineral in beer that promotes healthy bones, may be to thank.

20 PERCENT
...of people in a University of California, Davis, study who said they knew that beer, like wine, contains antioxidants. It’s true. (Although dark-colored beers don’t contain more antioxidants than light-colored brews. A deeper hue just means that the malt (sugars extracted from the grain) has been roasted longer.) Beer also contains some B vitamins and certain varieties even have a bit of soluble fiber, which has been linked with reduced cholesterol.



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