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 (http://tinyurl.com/5q55w2) 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hops