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"imbibo ergo sum"

 

Eight Healthy Reasons To Drink Beer

Allison Van Dusen, 03.17.10, 12:01 AM ET

 

Looking for a good excuse to tip back a beer?

 

You don't have to wait for St. Patrick's Day. That's because a decade's worth of health research shows that regular, moderate beer intake--one to two 12 ounce glasses per day for men and one for women--can be good for you, especially if you're facing some of the most common diseases related to aging.

 

Experts say wine tends to get most of the attention when it comes to the health benefits of alcohol primarily because of the French paradox, a reference to the relatively low rate of heart disease in France in spite of a diet high in saturated fat. The idea is that daily sips of Merlot make the difference.

 

In Depth: Eight Healthy Reasons To Drink Beer

 

But a number of studies are showing that moderate consumption of alcohol, including beer, can have similar heart healthy effects, including making men 30 to 35% less likely to have a heart attack than those who abstain.

 

"Wine is still on moral high ground," says Charlie Bamforth, chair and professor of the department of food science and technology at the University of California, Davis, "but beer deserves just the same acclamation."

 

Interest in the health effects of beer has been growing over the past eight to 10 years in tandem with a rise in the popularity of craft beers--usually defined as products of brewers who make fewer than 2 million barrels a year, says Nancy Tringali Piho, a spokeswoman for the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

 

Unlike many mass-produced beers, craft beers tend to be brewed with a particular focus on flavour, appearance and aroma. Their appeal has attracted an upscale audience that's curious about the beverage and how it compares with wine health-wise.

 

The news is good, particularly for baby boomers, many of whom are dealing with obesity and high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

 

Alcohol, including beer, in moderation raises high-density lipoprotein or HDL, known as good cholesterol, says Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, chief of the section of preventive medicine and epidemiology and professor of medicine and public health at the Boston University School of Medicine. It also appears to have a favourable effect on the lining of blood vessels, making them less likely to form a clot or for a clot to rupture and plug an artery, and may help protect against Type 2 diabetes.

 

"People should realize that a little bit of alcohol on a regular basis decreases the risks of aging," says Ellison, who specializes in researching, among other things, the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and chronic diseases.

 

And earlier this month researchers at the National Institutes of Health released a study showing that frequent drinking in moderation may protect men from death due to cardiovascular disease. Men who reported drinking 120 to 365 days a year had a 20% lower cardiovascular death rate than those who drank one to 36 days a year. Overdoing it, however, can have the opposite effect. Men who knocked back five or more drinks when they did indulge had a 30% greater risk for death via heart disease.

 

Beer may also give your brain a boost.

 

Adults over age 65 who drank one to six alcoholic beverages over the course of the week turned out to have a lower risk of dementia than non-drinkers or heavier drinkers, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Likewise, a 2006 report that appeared in an American Heart Association journal showed that a drink or two a day might be linked to better cognitive function in women.

 

Will this help Harare Hashers?

 

If you’re a Hasher with the Harare Hash with their “jelly-tot” down-downs, probably not, but if you Hash with the Full Moon Harare Hash, then yes! And Bamforth says he's not so sure that the growing selection of organic beers, those that don't contain sulphites, chemical preservatives and are made with mostly, if not all, organic ingredients, or beers flavoured with antioxidant-laden super-fruits will have much of a health impact. It's the alcohol content, as well as vitamins and minerals, in beer that has proved to make a difference.

 

Beer is something to enjoy, he says. Just don't feel guilty about indulging.

 

"In moderation, beer," Bamforth says, "it's part of a wholesome diet."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol 'protects men's hearts'

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.

The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men.

Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in Heart found.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year.

The study was conducted in Spain, a country with relatively high rates of alcohol consumption and low rates of coronary heart disease.

The research involved men and women aged between 29 and 69, who were asked to document their lifetime drinking habits and followed for 10 years.

Crucially the research team claim to have eliminated the "sick abstainers" risk by differentiating between those who had never drunk and those whom ill-health had forced to quit. This has been used in the past to explain fewer heart-related deaths among drinkers on the basis that those who are unhealthy to start with are less likely to drink.

Good cholesterol

The researchers, led by the Basque Public Health Department, placed the participants into six categories - from never having drunk to drinking more than 90g of alcohol each day. This would be the equivalent of consuming about eight bottles of wine a week, or 28 pints of lager.

People should not be encouraged to drink more as a result of this research
Professor Martin McKee London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

For those drinking little - less than a shot of vodka a day for instance - the risk was reduced by 35%. And for those who drank anything from three shots to more than 11 shots each day, the risk worked out an average of 50% less.

The same benefits were not seen in women, who suffer fewer heart problems than men to start with. Researchers speculated this difference could be down to the fact that women process alcohol differently, and that female hormones protect against the disease in younger age groups.

The type of alcohol drunk did not seem to make a difference, but protection was greater for those drinking moderate to high amounts of varied drinks.

The exact mechanisms are as yet unclear, but it is known that alcohol helps to raise high-density lipoproteins, sometimes known as good cholesterol, which helps stop so-called bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

'Binge-drinking'

UK experts said the findings should be treated with caution because they do not take into account ill-health from a range of other diseases caused by excess drinking.

"Whilst moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of having a heart attack, coronary heart disease is just one type of heart disease. Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, is associated with high alcohol intake and can lead to a poor quality of life and premature death," said the British Heart Foundation's senior cardiac nurse, Cathy Ross.

"The heart is just one of many organs in the body. While alcohol could offer limited protection to one organ, abuse of it can damage the heart and other organs such as the liver, pancreas and brain."

The Stroke Association meanwhile noted that overall, evidence indicated that people who regularly consumed a large amount of alcohol had a three-fold increased risk of stroke.

"Six units within six hours is considered 'binge-drinking' and anyone indulging in regular 'binge-drinking' increases their risk of stroke greatly," said research officer Joanne Murphy.

Public health specialists warned no-one should be encouraged to drink more as a result of this study.

"The relationship between alcohol and heart disease remains controversial," said Professor Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"While there is good evidence that moderate consumption is protective in people who are at substantial risk of heart disease - which excludes most people under the age of 40 - we also know that most people underestimate how much they drink. This paper adds to the existing literature but should not be considered as definitive. "

In the UK, the recommendation is no more than two to three units of alcohol a day for women - the equivalent of one standard glass of wine - and three to four units for men.

The British Liver Trust said: "There have been several studies suggesting that small amounts of alcohol can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in men over the age of 40.

"But these are often misinterpreted by people looking for a health reason to consume alcohol.

"If you want to look after your health, stay within the limits of no more than 3-4 units a day for men or 2-3 for women and aim to give yourself at least two days off alcohol a week."

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, agreed that the message from this study was not clear: "At the end of the day, you're juggling different risks and benefits, maybe helping your heart or maybe damaging your brain and liver.

"The simple message is moderation.

"Stick to the guidelines, and you won't go far wrong."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/8367141.stm

Published: 2009/11/19 00:31:02 GMT

BBC MMIX

 

 

Beer with 32% strength launched

A controversial Scottish brewery has launched what it described as the world's strongest beer - with a 32% alcohol content.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin has been unveiled by BrewDog of Fraserburgh.

BrewDog was previously branded irresponsible for an 18.2% beer called Tokyo, which it then followed with a low alcohol beer called Nanny State.

Managing director James Watt said a limited supply of Tactical Nuclear Penguin would be sold for 30 each.

This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance
Tactical Nuclear Penguin label warning

He said: "This beer is about pushing the boundaries, it is about taking innovation in beer to a whole new level."

Mr Watt added that a beer such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin should be drunk in "spirit sized measures".

A warning on the label states: "This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost."

However Jack Law, of Alcohol Focus Scotland, described it was a "cynical marketing ploy" and said: "We want to know why a brewer would produce a beer almost as strong as whisky."

The beer has been launched on the day alcohol was at the top of the political agenda with the unveiling of the Scottish government's Alcohol Bill including proposals for minimum pricing on drink.

Meanwhile, BrewDog's plans for a new headquarters to produce millions of bottles of beer a year have been approved by Aberdeenshire Council.

The decision was taken at a full council meeting despite having been recommended for refusal by officers because the site at Potterton, near Aberdeen, is in the green belt.

 

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/north_east/8380412.stm

Published: 2009/11/26 12:58:08 GMT

BBC MMIX