New Research - Good News for Beer Drinkers

Beer may help prevent colon cancer

You're not dreaming it could be true! Japanese researchers have shown that by drinking beer or by eating certain components found in the beverage could protect against colon cancer--at least in rats.

However, it has not yet been determined if beer has the same effect on humans In their research the scientists, led by Dr. Hajime Nozawa, investigated the ability of beer or its components to prevent a certain type of chemically-induced colon cancer in rats.

Key study results:

· It was found that the consumption of beer, or malt extract, for two weeks reduced the amount of DNA damage caused by the tumours.

· Moreover, beer intake for the full 5-week study period reduced formation of cancer forming lesions by some 35%..

· In a 42-week follow-up study, beer intake was associated with a reduction in the tumour rate of 22 percent and, overall, a significant drop in the number of cancers.

You guessed it –any old brew won’t do. Dr Nozawa and his team found that the tumour inhibiting effects of beer depended on the type of malt with dark-roasted malts being the more effective than pilsner malts. However, further experiments with hops proved negative – so it is the malt that appears to be the active agent.

Writing in the International Journal of Cancer, the authors state "The results suggest that daily, moderate consumption of beer may reduce the risk of cancer susceptibility in the colon” They also caution that additional research is needed to verify the conclusions and determine the mechanisms involved.

On learning of the study, Frank Caddy, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Drinks Industry Group (NIDIG) stated “This is good news and merits further investigation. It may become one of a number of health benefits known to be associated with moderate alcohol consumption” He added “ However, the key is ‘Moderation – you know it makes sense’”

Source: Nozawa H et al – Intake of beer inhibits azoxymethane-induced colonic carcinogenesis in male Fischer rats – International Journal of Cancer 2004

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