Among the many timely but grim warnings of prostate cancer and heart disease for Men’s Health Week, London Medical Laboratory has some far cheerier health news – just in time for Father’s Day.
It says beer not only contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but moderate consumption can potentially reduce the risk of many serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and dementia.
The leading testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘Men have been rightly targeted with a range of stern messages to mark Men’s’ Health Week, such as being on the lookout for prostate cancer symptoms and overcoming “surgery-shyness” to take their annual health MOT.
However, our analysis of a decade’s worth of research has revealed some good health news just in time for Father’s Day: a moderate consumption of beer may actively improve their health.
‘Our analysis of research from the US, Italy and the UK shows moderate beer consumption is associated with an increase in bone density, cardiovascular and immunological benefits and is also associated with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
‘Research published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases reveals compelling data to show that the moderate consumption of beer has a number of beneficial health effects. Perhaps most interestingly, moderate alcohol consumption in healthy adults and in cardiovascular patients protects against “total mortality”. In other words, the risk of death from all causes is reduced for moderate drinkers of all alcohol (including beer) compared to abstainers or heavy drinkers.
Heart: Research has shown moderate beer consumption (up to one drink per day in women, up to two in men) reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Why is this? The main protective effects on the cardiovascular system results from two of beer’s key components – alcohol and polyphenols. These act on vascular function and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies suggest that moderate consumption of beer and wine confer greater cardiovascular protection than spirits.
Cancer: Beers are a good source of antioxidants. The darker the beer, the more antioxidants it tends to have. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of chronic conditions and certain forms of cancer. A 2020 paper in the journal Biomolecules found that beers’ antioxidant properties diminish the content of free radicals, exerting an appreciable effect against cancers.
Diabetes: Drinking light amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of developing diabetes and help people with the condition control their blood sugar more effectively. Moderate alcohol consumption is thought to specifically lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. Randomised clinical trials show that moderate alcohol intake has beneficial effects on insulin concentrations and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic patients, suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of type-2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. Research published in Diabetes Journal showed that moderate alcohol consumption significantly decreased glucose levels amongst participants tested after fasting.
Dementia: There are many studies that show moderate drinking reduces the risk of dementia. A study published in the journal Age and Ageing showed that, in a cohort of more than 3,000 Germans aged 75 and older, those who drank two to three drinks a day decreased their risk of dementia by as much as 60% compared to those who abstained. This was mirrored in a six-year long study of nearly 8,000 people aged over 55 in Rotterdam, which showed the risk of dementia was significantly decreased among subjects who consumed one to three alcoholic drinks per day, as opposed to those who drank no alcohol or too much alcohol.
Bone density: Moderate amounts of beer may help strengthen bones for men and postmenopausal women. A report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown men who consumed one to two drinks of beer or alcohol daily had higher bone mineral density than non-drinking men. Postmenopausal women who consumed one to two drinks per day had a higher bone mineral density in the spine and hip area than non-drinking women.
Vitamins and minerals: No one is claiming that a pint counts towards your “five a day”, but beer is a rich source of vitamins and minerals including the essential nutrient choline, as well as calcium, folate (vitamin B9), magnesium, niacin (vitamin B3), phosphorus and potassium.
‘Obviously, the key word when talking about the consumption of beer or any other alcohol is “moderation”. Every benefit I’ve discussed is counteracted by too much alcohol. Long-term heavy drinking can lead to heart disease and increase your cancer risks.
Similarly, Diabetes UK says excess alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of type-2 diabetes. The Alzheimer’s Society warns regularly drinking too much alcohol over many years can lead to alcohol-related “dementia”, a type of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). Finally, heavy alcohol consumption compromises bone health, reduces bone density and increases the risk of osteoporosis, warns America’s National Institute of Alcohol Abuse.
‘The good news though, is that, in moderation, it certainly looks like dads can enjoy a beneficial beer this Father’s Day. If anyone is at all concerned about the impact of alcohol on their life, an at-home, finger-prick blood test can quickly inform you if your beer drinking is having a positive or negative impact on your health.
For example, London Medical Laboratory’s General Health Profile Test provides people with a comprehensive check-up of their general health, including a check for diabetes (HbA1c), liver & kidney function, bone health, potential gout, iron levels and a full cholesterol profile. Taking such a test will reassure most people they are healthy and, in those cases where alcohol-related issues such as liver or kidney problems are found, identify them earlier.
‘Alternatively, in-store tests provide quicker results and include a full blood count that can provide important additional clues about certain health problems. Likewise, an at-home Male Hormones Profile test checks the full range of men’s hormones and is very useful for giving information about fertility, planning sports and fitness programmes and monitoring testosterone supplementation.