BREAKING: New study reveals that reading articles about beer makes you WANT beer that much more!
If I linked you back to a research article as evidence behind that statement, wouldn't that make it more believable? Of course!
It’s easy to believe articles on the Internet are science and news reports on scientific studies are fact. But the problem with reading articles online, Facebook, Tumblr or hearing them on the news is that they pull very small pieces of information from a research study and blow it way out of proportion.
This causes us to treat science like an al a carte menu and only believe in the material we choose to read. If you haven’t listened to John Oliver’s segment on this, watch the video below. He does a brilliant job of explaining what I’m talking about.
As a dietitian, it’s my job to base my advice, recommendations and education on science. Research takes time, animal trials, human trials, peer reviews and replication in order to become even close to fact. Even then, proven scientific facts still need to be individualized to each person.
So what’s this got to do with beer?
Go ahead, ask Google what the health benefits are from drinking beer. Google will provide you with many articles stating beer is good for your bones, your inflammation, will help you stay skinny and prevent cancer to boot!
Sorry friends, but I’m going to debunk them one by one.
The Claim: Beer is good for your bones
An article stated there’s, “silicon in beer and it silicon is good for your bones, so drink up.”
Beer does contain silicon, it results from the processing of barley and hops. The problem is the review drew attention to silicon in different foods and beverages and its potential benefit for postmenopausal osteoporosis. What the google article gets wrong, is that there is not enough research to advise silicon as a supplement, let alone to say a beer a day will help postmenopausal osteoporosis. Furthermore, the study was done with an emphasis on postmenopausal osteoporosis meaning it is not applicable to a general audience until it has been repeated and verified multiple times.
Research has to state the positive and negative outcome from their findings. They state that beer had a moderate effect of bone formation independent of ethanol, meaning without alcohol. How much beer do you drink that doesn’t contain alcohol?
If you really want to strengthen your bones, stick with calcium. You can find it in dairy, dark greens or even canned fish with the bones.
The Claim: Drinking beer helps block inflammation
The study that this sexy headline was pulled from demonstrated and compared the anti-inflammatory effect of various classes of hop bitter acids, in fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are cells in connective tissue that produce collagen and other fibers.
First of all, if you can’t download an entire article because scientists spent a wickedly long amount of time working on it, and it's published somewhere that wants to charge you for it, then you can’t quote the abstract with such a loose fact.
You also have to read abstracts very carefully because the one I found stated at the end, “which may open up new avenues for anti-inflammatory strategies with fewer side effects.”
Red flag! What are these side effects?
They also stated the study was done in vivo which does not always mean human trials. It could be rats or even plants for that matter.
I am not saying this scientific study is not worthwhile or not done beautifully, but stating their work did something it didn’t is belittling to their devotion to science.
The Claim: Drinking beer can help prevent cancer
You can find an “article” on every single food and beverage and how they both prevent and cause cancer. You might think, why is this a bad thing? Because contradictions like these are portrayed in the media and they impact our faith in science.
The reason I cannot agree with the statement, “beer prevents cancer” is because the researchers titled their work as, “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).”
Did you even read that entire title? Their study is valid and might be well executed, but it was performed on rats.
Many studies cannot find the same results when their experiments transition to human trials, and most never get to human trials anyway.
The Claim: Beer makes you skinnier
Really? Do I even need to explain why a heading like this pulled from a scientific article doesn’t make sense?
First of all, if you open the article and read it in its entirety, the words beer, alcohol, hops or even barley never make an appearance. They discuss yeast but not in the same realm of its necessity for making beer.
Beer could make you skinnier if
- it’s all you drank,
- You stopped giving your body food or nutrition, and
- You didn’t mind shutting down your liver.
That’s a serious condition called alcoholism and it can lead to cirrhosis.Not an advisable form of weight loss, obviously.
I understand it’s hard to navigate research and science is constantly changing…but don’t you want it to?
As humans, don’t we owe a lot to scientists who discovered that scurvy is prevented by adequate vitamin C consumption, or folate is vital before and during pregnancy to help prevent spinal birth defects? Yes, research takes a lot of time to become reputable advice. But please, don’t let the morning show’s poppy segment on studies proving this or that become facts you share with your friends and family.
Take them in with a healthy dose of skepticism (thank you John Oliver) and read your sources. John says it best, if your first thought is, “No way, that can’t be true!” You’re probably right.
As for your beer, just enjoy it for what it is: a delicious beverage that is fine to consume in moderation. I’m off to have one myself!