Health and Beer

Let me start by saying that I do not believe that drinking beer will make you healthy.
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Now that I’ve made it clear that I am not about to convince you that beer is healthy, it can be very interesting to learn about updated research and how the science of nutrition helps us know beer. Below are just a few studies that have been discussed regarding beer, its health benefits, and notes to help you be aware that science is not against beer consumption! I think that the National Beer Wholesalers Association says it best: "Eat right, exercise and drink a beer a day may be the way to keep the doctor away."

The American Heart Association has found studies that prove moderate beer consumption helps to slow the decline of  HDL  (high-density lipoprotein), which is good cholesterol. The changes that occur due to regular beer consumption help to prevent coronary-heart disease and dementia. After following over 80,000 healthy adults for over 6 years, they found the below reports:

  • HDL levels decreased over time in all participants, but moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a slower decline compared to non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.
  • Moderate beer drinkers (men drinking one to two alcohol servings daily and women a half to one serving daily) had the slowest decline – 0.17 mmol/per year.
  • Heavy drinking nearly eliminated this benefit with only .0008 mmol per year decline.

Another statement following this study shocked me as the AHA is now backing moderate beer consumption:
The American Heart Association recommends consuming alcohol in moderation if you already drink but cautions people to not start drinking and consult your doctor on your risks and benefits of consuming alcohol in moderation.”(1)

The Wall Street Journal joins in with producing studies from this, and other research, who go on to find that beer, as opposed to wine or liquor, has shown less hypertension when consumed on a regular basis. A study on over 70,000 nurses who moderately consumed beer showed less hypertension than nurses who consumed wine. Similar studies also found an increase in bone density which helps to prevent fractures. To continue the positive research findings, they also add that B-vitamins and folates were discovered in the body (found in green leaf vegetables) which reduce risks of heart disease (2).
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Harvard’s nutrition group decided to weigh the advantages or disadvantages of beer consumption on heart disease. The easiest way to gain any understanding of their findings is shown in the chart below(3):
 Name, Participants
 Association with Moderate Alcohol Consumption*
Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk cohort: 97,432 men and women aged 40–79
10 years
12%–20% decreased risk of all-cause mortality in men and women who consumed less than 23 grams per day of alcohol; heavy drinking increased the risk of all-cause mortality
Health Professionals Follow-up Study: 38,077 male health professionals aged 40–75
12 years
35% reduced risk of myocardial infarction
Eastern France cohort: 34,014 men and women
10–15 years
25–30% reduced risk of cardiovascular death
Cancer Prevention Study II: 489,626 men and women aged 30–104
9 years
30–40% reduced risk of cardiovascular death; mortality from all causes increased with heavier drinking, particularly among adults under age 60
Physicians’ Health Study: 22,071 male physicians aged 40–84
11 years
30–35% reduced risk of angina and myocardial infarction, 20–30% reduced risk of cardiovascular death
Kaiser Permanente cohort: 123,840 men and women aged 30+
10 years
40% reduction in fatal myocardial infarction, 20% reduction in cardiovascular mortality; 80% increase in fatal hemorrhagic stroke
Nurses’ Health Study: 85,709 female nurses aged 34–59
12 years
17% lower risk of all-cause mortality; an earlier report showed a 40% reduction in risk of CHD and 70% reduction in risk of ischemic stroke
* compared with non-drinkers

If you search any combination of "beer" and "health," you will find hundreds more studies, articles, and statistics that will discuss the benefits of beer. While they may be true findings, or made up fantasies, we may never know. The information above are sources found to be more reliable than some, and are to provide useful in friendly discussions and to help you feel less guilty about that Monday night brew (Pun intended!).

I will try to provide more fun new updates as I receive them!
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(1)You can find this full study on the AHA newsroom site here.
(2)You can find this full study on the Wall Street Journal  site here..
(3)You can find this full study on the Harvard Nutrition site here.