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Drinking Beer and Women’s Hearts

First, the good news: drinking a beer or two per week could reduce the risk of heart disease in women by 30 percent. The bad news, however, is that drinking spirits (rather than beer or wine) could raise a woman’s risk of dying of cancer by 50 percent. These new findings come from a 32-year long Swedish study that included 1,500 women who were age 38 to 60 when they enrolled in the investigation. Over the course of 32 years, the women reported on their consumption of beer, wine or spirits, and the researchers tracked the participants’ medical concerns, including heart problems and cancer. Analysis of the data showed a reduced risk of developing heart disease in those women who drank a beer or two per week compared to women who didn’t drink alcohol at all and those who were heavy drinkers. However, the study did not confirm the results of previous results from other investigators suggesting that moderate wine consumption can lower the risk of heart disease. That outcome will have to be confirmed in a follow-up study, according to lead researcher Dominique Hange. The investigators, from the University of Gothenburg, also reported an apparent higher risk of dying of cancer among women who drank spirits more than once or twice a month over the course of the study compared to women who drank spirits less often than that.

Beer Marinade – Quick Tip for Healthier Barbeques

Barbeque season in fast approaching in the U.S. and although the tradition offers a lot in the way of social benefits, grilling foods has proven to be decidedly unhealthy. Fortunately, a group of European scientists have come up with a way to cut back on harmful polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogens that can form when meat is cooked on the grill or elsewhere at very high temperatures. The compounds have been associated with tumors, birth defects and reproductive problems in lab animals and with colorectal cancer in humans. The trick to reducing the PAHs in your barbequed steaks and chops, according to the research team, is to marinate them first in beer. The investigators from Universidade do Porto in Portugal reported that four hours of marinating meat in regular or nonalcoholic pilsner or dark ale reduced the PAHs in meat by slightly more than half compared with meat that hasn’t been marinated. Overall, the researchers found that using dark ale (which contains more antioxidants than the other brews) cut PAHs by 53 percent. The nonalcoholic pilsner beer marinade cut PAHs by 25 percent and the regular Pilsner beer reduced them by only 13 percent. When the researchers performed their study, they cooked pork to well done on a charcoal grill.

Olga Viegas et al, “Effect of Beer Marinades on Formation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Charcoal-Grilled Pork,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 2014, 62 (12), pp 2638–2643 DOI: 10.1021/jf404966w

What’s Your Favorite Alcoholic Drink? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed beer and whether it provides any health benefits: What's Wrong with Beer? Check out the article and let us know what alcoholic beverage you enjoy and include in your diet.