NO KID(ney)ING - BEER CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU
Kidney stones can be one of the most painful of human experiences. Help is at hand - according to Professor Pirjo Pietinen and her colleagues in Finland, we should drink more beer if we want to improve our chances of avoiding this painful condition.
Doctors have long recommended susceptible patients to take plenty of fluids, especially water. The effect of diluting the urine seems to retard the build up of calcium deposits, which can then form into painful ‘stones’. But, it seems, some fluids are better at prevention than others. For example apple and grapefruit juices actually hasten stone formation, as does some soft-drink consumption.
The Finnish study, which was originally established to study lung cancer amongst male smokers aged between 50 and 69, noted that out of the total of 27000 volunteers 329 developed kidney stones. On further analysis they were surprised to find that there appeared to be no clear protection from drinking water. Although it has to be pointed out that the statistics were gathered originally for a study into lung cancer amongst older men.
Nonetheless, it became evident from the data that those participants who drank a glass of beer on a daily basis enjoyed a 40% lower risk of suffering from kidney stones. Prof. Pietinen added, “So, theoretically, drinking two beers a day could reduce the risk still further, perhaps to 80% less”
The Finnish team found no statistical link between alcohol per se and reduced risk. It appears that beer alone conveys the preventative benefits. One possible explanation may lie in the fact that the hops used to improve the keeping qualities and flavour may also contain chemicals that interfere with stone formation.
NI Drinks Industry Group chief executive, Frank Caddy added, “There is accumulating evidence that beer can be much more than just a pleasant drink and, in moderation, it complements a healthy lifestyle. However, everyone should follow sensible drinking guidelines – remember – Moderation, you know it makes sense!”
Frank E Caddy
Hiroven, T.; P.Pietinen, et al 1999. Nutrient intake and use of beverages and the risk of kidney stones among male smokers – American Journal of Epidemiology 150 (July15); 187