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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 19:34 GMT
Alcohol-free beer 'stops cancer'
Beer is often associated with negative health effects
Drinking non-alcoholic beer may ward off cancer, research on lab mice shows.

Mice given the beer while exposed to cancer-causing chemicals had 85% less damage to their liver, lung and kidneys than those given water, the study said.

The team from Okayama University in Japan said there may be compounds in it which prevent the carcinogenic compounds binding to cells.

But researcher Dr Sakae Arimoto- Kobayashi said the study did not mean alcoholic beer had the same effect.

We would not encourage anyone to drink more beer with the aim of preventing cancer
Dame Helen Shovelton

"The total benefits and risks of beer with alcohol are still under consideration."

If the contents of non-alcoholic beer which were potentially protecting the mice could be identified they could be added to food and drink to help reduce the risk of cancer, he told New Scientist.

Heavy alcohol consumption is blamed for about 6% of all cancers in western countries.

But both beer and red wine, taken in moderation are also associated with health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease.

Dame Helen Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said people must not interpret the research as encouragement for drinking more alcohol.

'Not encouraging beer drinking'

"As the prognosis for lung cancer patients is so dire in the UK, we are always interested in new research that may help patients in the future.

"However, we would like to see further research done.

"We would not encourage anyone to drink more beer with the aim of preventing cancer as alcohol had been proven to have some detrimental health effects."

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, said: "Our diets contain a whole range of potentially anti-carcinogenic substances, particularly in fruit and vegetables.

"As beer is a complex mixture of nutrients, this study adds very little to our knowledge of which compounds might be useful in preventing cancer. In addition, this research is not directly relevant to humans as it was conducted in mice."

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