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Bottoms Up: The Health Benefits of Beer

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - For many, it just wouldn't be Saint Patrick's Day without a pint. In fact, 13 million pints of Guinness and countless cups of green beer are chugged around the world every March 17th. While we've heard all about the bad things beer can do to our bodies, in moderation it could do some good too.

Eric is a Brew Master.

"It's like the best job ever," Eric told Ivanhoe.

His concoctions can intoxicate and they could medicate.

"Well alcohol's been used as medication for forever and ever," Dr. Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., Professor & Co-Vice Chair at the University of Florida, told Ivanhoe.

Addiction Expert Sara Jo Nixon says, like red wine, drinking beer can be good for your heart!

"That's something that the beer industry has not really capitalized on," Dr. Nixon explained.

An Italian study of more than 200,000 people found those who drank a pint a day, had a 31 percent decrease in heart disease risk.  Beer can also raise HDL, the good cholesterol, in your body.

A 2009 study found the high levels of silicon in beer can be good for bones, but too many could mean more fractures.

"We also know that there's a line between too much alcohol being bad for bones," explained Dr. Nixon.

Harvard studies found beer can prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke, and that a few beers a day lowered the risk of diabetes in middle-aged men by 25 percent.

Research in Europe found moderate beer drinkers had 30 percent higher levels of the disease-fighting vitamin B6 compared to non-drinkers.

"But, you can't substitute a beer for your multi-vitamin," explained Dr. Nixon.

Nixon says, moderation is key. It's recommended women have no more than one drink a day and men, no more than two, because the organ systems that benefit from a few  beers.

"Are the same organ systems that are comprised when you cross the line," Dr. Nixon told Ivanhoe.

A few more benefits of beer, a study in Finland reports that men who drank a few bottles daily lowered their risk of kidney stones by 40 percent.

Also, researchers have found marinating a steak in beer could reduce the risk of cancer. It wipes out the majority of carcinogens that are produced when meat is fried in a pan.

Research Summary

BEER IN THE U.S.: Apple pie and burgers may come to mind when thinking about the United States, but many Americans across the country also enjoy beer on fairly regular basis. Beer was most likely one of the first alcoholic beverages brewed by colonists in Jamestown and by the 1600s large amounts of beer were produced using left over grains after the harvest. The love affair with beer came to abrupt halt when the National Prohibition Law was passed in 1920 and all sale of alcohol became illegal. The law was repealed in 1933 and since then the alcohol industry has thrived. (Source: www.discus.org) Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the United States with an average consumption nine times that of wine and a whopping fourteen times that of spirits according to the Beer Institute. In fact, it was estimated that the average American drank a little over 20 gallons of the beer in 2010 alone. (Source:www.businessweek.com

 MOST POPULAR BEERS: Having a hard time deciding what beer to pick up at the liquor store? Here are some of the most popular beers across the world:

  • Snow Beer – This Chinese beer tops the list with over 50 million barrels sold in 2011.
  • Bud Light – The light beer is the second most popular beer in the world and is ranked first in popularity in the United States. The original Budweiser is ranked number three in the world.
  • Corona Extra – Grupo Modelos' most popular beer until the company was bought in 2008 is the fourth most popular beer in the world with 30.4 million barrels sold in 2011.

(Source: www.huffingtonppost.com)

 PROBLEM OF TOO MUCH: While beer can have health benefits, drinking the beverage regularly may not be good for everyone. A study by the National Cancer Institute concluded that post-menopausal women who drank about one to two beers a day had a 30% to 60% increase in their risk for breast cancer. Consuming alcoholic beverages on a regular basis can also raise a younger woman's breast cancer risk, although by a much lower percentage. So, for individuals already at an increased risk for breast cancer, drinking very little or no alcohol at all may be better for their overall health. (Source: www.abcnews.go.com) Beer should also be consumed in moderation because too much could lead to an unpleasant hangover or even worse, a DUI. Everyone should be responsible when drinking and less is always more when it comes to alcohol.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D.
Professor  & Co-Vice Chair
Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology
sjnixon@ufl.edu
352-294-4900

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