For Those Looking for Drinking Encouragement, New Beer Research Proves Fruitless
> 6/13/2006 9:12:18 AM

One of man's favorite vices factored into two recent studies that have been making some headlines. In the first, researchers at Oregon State University have found that an ingredient in beer seems to help prevent prostate cancer.

From the OSU press release:
Xanthohumol, a compound found in hops, inhibits NF-kappaB protein in cells along the surface of the prostate gland, said Emily Ho, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise sciences in OSU's College of Health and Human Sciences and a researcher with OSUís Linus Pauling Institute. The protein acts like a signal switch that turns on a variety of animal and human malignancies, including prostate cancer.

There's just one small catch: to receive any benefits from beer one would need to consume about 17 drinks a day. As you can imagine, this offsets (by a wide margin) any of the potentially positive health benefits. So while a synthesized, potent dose of xanthohumol may one day help prevent prostate cancer, trying to drink yourself cancer free is still not medically sound advice.

In the second study, researchers in California have gathered evidence that an ingredient in coffee protects against cirrhosis, and especially alcoholic cirrhosis. A 20 year study found that drinking less than one full cup reduced alcoholic cirrhosis by 30%, one to three cups by 40%, and 4 or more cups by 80%. Although there isn't complete certainty, researchers believe that caffeine is not the ingredient responsible for the difference because similar trends were not witnessed in tea drinkers. The research appears in the current issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

As with the first study, this new information should not be taken as carte blanche to consume alcohol with impunity. This study provides only preliminary data that suggests a link between coffee and reduced incidence of cirrhosis. The nature of that link and its overall strength will only be established after further study. But that is all beside the point as cirrhosis is only one of the negative outcomes that can come about from high volumes of alcohol intake. As the researchers are quick to point out, the only way to prevent cirrhosis is to eliminate alcohol from your diet.

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