By Andrew Masterson – SMH.
Beer might be useful for treating cancer, but research published this year indicates that it might also be perfect for spotting it in the first place, too.
In ancient Sumeria, around 4000 years ago, they took their beer very seriously. Severe penalties, up to and including death, awaited anyone who offered up under-strength or over-priced ale.
With wine the only other contender, beer is probably the oldest purposely made intoxicant in history. The Sumerians, who lived around what is modern day southern Iraq regarded it as a medicine as much as an after-work quaff. Indeed, it is prominent in the Epic of Gilgamesh, civilisation’s first epic poem, as a transformative and humanising substance.
All of which goes to show that beer has always been as much about the stories that surround it as well as its taste and effects.
Today, in Australia, those stories are almost always negative. Over-consumption and binge drinking are serious issues that produce multiple problems. Attempts to mediate these tragic and expensive outcomes understandably colour the discourse.
This is unfortunate in some ways, because all the bad news and cautionary tales obscure another story that scientists around the world are telling. Within certain parameters, beer can be good for you.
“Moderate beer consumption can be considered as part of a healthy diet since it may protect against heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis,” stated a group of scientists from Italy’s Institute of Food Sciences, led by Dr Carmela Spagnuolo, last year.
Spagnuolo and her colleagues were investigating whether beer might one day be used to treat leukaemia. Beers contain a rich cargo of a chemicals called polyphenols, thought to have cancer-fighting abilities. In the Italian research, cultured leukaemia cells were exposed to five different Italian brews.
“A significant reduction in cell viability was measured after 48 hours treatment,” the team concluded…read the full article.