Just about everyone who enjoys beer has wondered if it is good or bad for their health. There is no simple answer to this question. But, the vast majority of beer aficionados are folks like you who Savor the Flavor Responsibly®.
Well, wonder no more. An ever-growing body of research confirms health benefits of craft beer with moderate consumption as part of a healthy diet. In fact, the USDA Dietary Guidelines specifically mention the health benefits of moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.
The next time you pour yourself a craft beer, or maybe you are enjoying one now, you should know that there are a variety of possible health benefits provided from your favorite malted beverage.
Health Benefits Associated with Moderate Consumption of Beer
- Decreased risk of weight gain among women who drink moderately, compared to those who don’t drink.¹
- Decreased risk of hypertension.²
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease³, among healthy men, men who have had heart bypass surgery4, women5 and among drinkers with type II diabetes.6
- Beer is a rich source of silicon, which plays a role in increasing bone mineral density and may help prevent osteoporosis.7
- Decreased risk of heart failure8, especially for moderate consumers.9
- Consumption of alcohol is associated with lower risk of arthritic conditions10 and lowers the risk and the severity of rheumatoid arthritis11
- Consumption of alcohol can help lower your cholesterol by raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.12
- Decreased risk of diabetes13 by roughly 40 percent compared to abstainers.
- Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in female non-smokers.14
- Decreased risk of poor cognitive function for men and women.15
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density.16
- Increases absorption of dietary fiber.
- Hops contain Xanthohumol, which has been found to have significant anti-cancer activity17 in liver cancer cells and also in colon mucosa.18
Dangers of Over-Appreciation
Beer is a beverage of moderation, as well as the perfect accompaniment to dinner and social occasions. Over the years, nearly all of the health benefits attributed to beer, or any alcoholic beverage, have been associated with moderate consumption of (1 – 2 drinks per day). As with any of life’s pleasures, too much of a good thing can have negative results.
To help avoid negative consequences of drinking, CraftBeer.com provides a Blood Alcohol Content Calculator to inform beer lovers of the estimated potential blood alcohol content range that one might experience after responsibly enjoying beer.
New research continues to explore the ways in which alcohol affects the human body. Here are some of the possible downsides of excessive consumption.
- Cancer – For every study showing a benefit of moderate alcohol consumption there is another showing the risk of certain types of cancer increase with consumption of alcohol. These include oral cancer20, hormone dependent forms of breast cancer21, and possibly stomach cancer.
- Diabetes, insulin dependence, and metabolic syndrome – whereas moderate consumption actually lowers the risk of diabetes compared to non-drinkers, heavy alcoholic consumption increases the risk of diabetes.22
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome23 – Doctors aren’t sure how much alcohol (if any) a pregnant mother may safely consume without placing her baby at risk. For this reason, current U.S. health policy24 advises women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant against drinking any alcohol.
- Hangover – described on Wikipedia as the “sum of unpleasant physiological effects following heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages”, and “a natural and intrinsic disincentive to excessive drinking.” Be sure to enjoy your favorite beer in moderation, and drink plenty of water while enjoying beer or other alcoholic beverages to help combat this side effect.
- Heart attack – among men and women.26
- Heart failure.
- Pancreatitis among heavy drinkers.
- Stroke when drinking is heavy (more than six drinks per day) or at a binge level, and in the two hours27 immediately following consumption of alcohol.
Remember to Savor the Flavor Responsibly®, and always keep in mind the dangers of over consumption.
¹ “Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women” JAMA Network. JAMA Internal Medicine, 8 Mar. 2010.
² “Prehypertension: Does It Really Matter?” The Harvard Medical School. Family Health Guide, Apr. 2007.
³ “Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Biological Markers Associated with Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Interventional Studies.” BMJ. BMJ Group, 22 Feb. 2011.
4 “Two to Three Drinks a Day May Benefit Heart-Bypass Patients.”Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 14 Nov. 2010.
5 “Excerpt from Healthy Women, Healthy Lives.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, n.d.
6 “Alcohol Intake and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in Persons With Older-Onset Diabetes Mellitus.” JAMA. JAMA Network, 21 Jan. 1999.
7 “Silicon in beer and brewing.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. John Wiley & Sons, Feb. 2010.
8 “Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians’ Health Study I.” American Heart Association, 29 Aug. 2006.
9 “Patterns of Alcohol Consumption and Ischaemic Heart Disease in Culturally Divergent Countries: The Prospective Epidemiological Study of Myocardial Infarction (PRIME).” BMJ. The JAMA Network, 23 Nov. 2010.
10 “Alcohol Consumption Lowers Risk of Developing Several Arthritic Conditions.” European League Against Rheumatism. N.p., 16 June 2010.
11 “Alcohol Consumption Is Inversely Associated with Risk and Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Rheumatology. Oxford Journals, 8 Mar. 2010.
12 “Help for Your Cholesterol When the Statins Won’t Do.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, Mar. 2005.
13 “Combined Effect of Alcohol Consumption and Lifestyle Behaviors on Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. N.p., 21 Apr. 2010.
14 “Alcohol consumption may protect against risk of AD, particularly in female nonsmokers.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. May 2010.
15 “Alcohol Consumption and Cognitive Function in the Whitehall II Study.” American Journal of Epidemiology. Oxford Journals, 2004.
16 “The effect of moderate alcohol consumption on bone mineral density: a study of female twins.” Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. BMJ Group, 1 June 2004.
17 “Xanthohumol, a Prenylated Chalcone Derived from Hops, Inhibits Proliferation, Migration and Interleukin-8 Expression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells.” International Journal of Oncology. Spandidos Publications, 1 Feb. 2010.
18 “Xanthohumol, a Prenylated Flavonoid Contained in Beer, Prevents the Induction of Preneoplastic Lesions and DNA Damage in Liver and Colon Induced by the Heterocyclic Aromatic Amine Amino-3-methyl-imidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ).” ScienceDirect. N.p., 10 Sept. 2010.
19 “Alcoholism.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 9 Aug. 2012.
20 “Oral Cancer Prevention and Screening.” Kick Cancer Program. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 19 Oct. 2011.
21 “Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women.” JAMA Network. JAMA Internal Medicine, 8 Mar. 2010.
22 “Moderate Alcohol Consumption Lowers the Risk of Metabolic Diseases.” EurekAlert! Boston University Medical Center, 29 Nov. 2010.
23 “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 21 May 2011.
24 “A 2005 Message to Women from the U.S. Surgeon General: Advisory on Alcohol Use in Pregnancy” Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 21 Feb. 2005.
25 “Fight Back Against Gout.” Harvard Health Publications. The Harvard Medical School, Feb. 2016.
26 “For Women: Take This Risk to Heart.” Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 12 Apr. 2013.
27 “Stroke Risk Temporarily Increases for an Hour after Drinking Alcohol.” EurekAlert! American Heart Association, 15 July 2010.
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