BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Beer 'may be good for you'
Beer drinker
How to protect against heart disease?
A pint of beer may help protect against heart disease more effectively than red wine or spirits, researchers have found.

While the health benefits of red wine have long been touted by scientists, a letter in medical journal The Lancet suggests that the odd pint may also be a good idea.

Beer contains vitamin B6 which prevents the build up in the body of a chemical called homocysteine - thought to be linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease.

There are damn sight better ways to protect against heart disease than by drinking beer

Andrew Varley, Institute of Alcohol Studies
However, Dutch researchers have discovered that this may not be the only reason why beer may be good for the heart.

Dr Henk Hendriks and colleagues from the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, studied 111 healthy men who each drank beer, red wine, spirits, and water, for three weeks, with dinner.

They found that homocysteine levels did not increase after beer consumption, but rose after drinking wine and spirits.

Beer drinkers had a 30% increase of vitamin B6 in blood plasma.

Levels of B6 also rose in people who had drunk wine and spirits, although not by the same amount.

Dr Hendriks' team suggests that beer may contain other ingredients that help protect against heart disease.

Dr Hendriks told BBC News Online: "Moderate alcohol consumption affects many processes in the body, one of which is the significant increase in HDL cholesterol - the good cholesterol.

"However, one should not drink alcohol to become healthy."

Andrew Varley, of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, warned against people using the research as an excuse to drink more beer.

He said: "Any research about the various health-giving properties of different types of alcohol is a bit of a red herring as the effect is usually marginal and restricted to a very small group of people under certain circumstances.

"There are damn sight better ways to protect against heart disease than by drinking beer, but people love this sort of thing because it gives them an excuse."

Mr Varley said that drinking large quantities of beer would create far more health problems than it would solve.

A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation said: "At the moment we should all stick to the known facts: one or two units of alcohol a day may have a protective affect on the heart but more than this could do more harm than good.

"Using this study as an excuse to go on a beer binge over the Bank Holiday weekend is not the answer.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Westhead
"Today's research isn't a license to drink beer"
See also:

07 May 99 | Health
25 Jun 99 | Health
15 Apr 00 | Health
31 Oct 99 | Health
20 Oct 99 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes