One of Stefano’s many areas of expertise is beer. He knows a lot about it and enjoys drinking a beer in summer AND winter…cold, cool and lukewarm, dark and light, different brands from several European countries, including Italy. Always with moderation, of course.


As for me, the only times I manage to swallow a couple of sips of beer is when I am inside an English pub (=once every ten years or so!). Stefano thinks that I prefer English beer because it isn’t as fizzy as beers made in other countries. But his love for, and my general dislike of, beer is not the point of today’s brief post. The point is that, while doing research on a sort of related topic, I came across some very good news for all the myeloma beer drinkers (and, why not?, beer drinkers in general) out there…so here goes.


A group of researchers, including Prof. Aggarwal, tested xanthohumol (XN), a compound extracted from the hop plant, discovering that it has anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative and antiangiogenic properties. Their report was published in the October 24 2008 issue of “Blood.” I would love to read the full study, but Sherlock is off on a brief and much-deserved holiday, so I will have to wait until she returns to Firenze. In the meantime, the abstract ( gives us enough food for thought: XN potentiated TNF-induced apoptosis in leukemia and myeloma cells. The words “apoptosis” in the same sentence as “myeloma cells” always make my day.


You can go read about all of xanthohumol‘s other properties, including the downregulation of the infamous hyperactive NF-kappaB (hurrah!). But the important thing is that xanthohumol causes the death of leukemic cells. Yes!


Okay, but what is xanthohumol’s connection to beer? Stefano and other beer connoisseurs probably already knew this, but it was news to me: the hop plant gives aroma and bitterness to beer. And its compound xanthohumol was first isolated thirteen years or so ago by Oregon State University beer drin…I mean, researchers. They discovered that it inhibited tumour growth and enzymes that activate cancer cells.


We shouldn’t forget that lab studies undoubtedly use a pure compound, whereas the one that is found in most beers is probably not so pure. Still, it’s better than nothing. From what I read, if you want your beer to have a higher hop content, choose ale, stout or porter. The darker, the better, apparently (?). I have a feeling that the bitterer beers contain more hops and would thus be preferable to sweeter-tasting beers. But hey, I could be really wrong about that.


In conclusion, I may try drinking some bitter dark beer now and again. And I will never again suggest to Stefano that he might be better off drinking water instead of beer. 🙂


P.S. For more info on hops, see:


  1. I would love a copy of the study! I’ll have to start making myself drink dark beer. It might be an uphill battle. I still haven’t found a red wine I like well enough to drink more than a few drops of. Find a study that says coffee kills myeloma cells!


  2. I’d actually found number of studies on this, not suprisingly, a bunch from Belgium. Hey, they make great beer and lots of it 🙂

    I actually own a small brewery and I happen to love IPA (India Pale Ale) which is the hoppiest stuff around. We grow some of our own hops as well. I’m trying to talk the brewmaster into figuring out a way to make a super hoppy beer without the alchohol, the latter not being great for cancer.

    The one drawback I’ve found in the abstracts I’ve read is that there seem to be bioavailablility issues with the active compounds, sounds so familiar.

  3. Chris,
    Please consider making a gluten-free, alcohol-free beer. I don’t think anyone makes it, but I’d buy it. I feel so left out when my son and husband bring home regular beer. I have non-alcoholic liver inflammation, and can’t take the gluten either.

  4. Hi Margaret

    On a totally different subject, but combining two things in your life, take a look at this study that links cats purrs with reduced myeloma in cats.

    I’ve been on one of my lateral thinking sprees lately, I have become quite engrossed in vibrational medicine, Royal Rife, Hulda Clark, Ed Skilling to name a few. Did you know that Mozarts violin pieces is considered to have a very healing effect, possibly because of the harmonic frequencies that are produced. There is a lot of old (suppressed research) and now new research starting to confirm there may be something in it. Though the issues with a healing crisis is making me hesitant to test it out.
    Has anyone else out there looked into this??

    Wishing you good health


  5. One beer an evening, the darker the better for me. I’ve always believed that one beer must be at least as good for us as a glass of wine. After all, it even has more water! And lots of polyphenols or whatever those are called. And now you’ve found ANOTHER nice component, XN. Bless you – I really want that one beer to be good for me, because I might just drink it regardless.

    Stefano is a wise and cultured man.


  6. The big problem in studies was that XN below certain concentrations showed no effects at all. A hops producer published a note a couple of years back that basically said you’d need to consume (if I recall) about 25 litres of beer/day to get that level of XN. Even in college I had a hard time hitting that aggressive target.

    Another German hops producer created a hops pellet (we mostly use pellets in producing beer, not actual hops flowers) which had several times as much XN in the resulting beer. I can’t seem to find the paper now, it was presented at a beer conference. They produced a stout and a porter that were seriously high in XN.

    I’m looking around to see if they’ll produce those pellets commerically, so far I don’t know of any.

  7. In fact, a blog reader sent me a link (in a private communication) that confirms what you write, see:

    Still, I seem to recall reading that even minimum amounts of XN have some sort of beneficial effect.

    Interesting web page that explains the difference between whole hops and pellets and plugs:

    By the way, thanks to Sherlock I now have the full study, and would be happy to forward it upon request, as usual.


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