Alf is giving some deep thought this morning to the pros and cons of changing his drinking habits.
Before he decides if he should drink less Scotch and more beer, he will do a bit more research. But the way he understands it –
Researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg have discovered that beer contains a powerful molecule that helps protect against breast and prostate cancers.
Found in hops, the substance called xanthohumol blocks the excessive action of testosterone and oestrogen.
It also helps to prevent the release of a protein called PSA which encourages the spread of prostate cancer.
Wow. Sinking a pint of beer would be like taking out an insurance policy to preserve your prostate without pickling it.
You would have to have your prostate in good nick to deal with the problem of disposing of the beer after if passes through your system, of course. Prostate problems notoriously make emptying your bladder a time-consuming chore, or have you clambering our of bed regularly through the night to go for a pee.
At least, that’s what afflicted mates of Alf tell him.
But what goes into beer that enables it to keep cancer at bay?
Scientists have long known that substances in hops help to block oestrogen. This is the first time, however, that they have been found to also inhibit testosterone.
‘Research is still early but in trials we hope to further demonstrate that xanthohumol actively prevents prostate cancer development,’ says Clarissa Gerhauser of the Heidelberg centre.
If successful, xanthohumol may one day be developed as a cancer-fighting drug.
So which brews are likely to be richest in xanthohumol?
The Mail in Britain helps answer that by consulting a beer authority.
‘Hops give beer its bitter flavour, so traditional bitters and ales will contain far more of this substance than light lagers,’ explains Ben McFarland, author of the World’s Best Beers.
Beers highest in hops, he says, are India pale ales such as those made by the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich, South-East London. First brewed in the 1800s, these ales were made with high levels of hops to act as a natural preservative for export.
Ales such as Sharp’s and local bitters will also be hop-rich, containing around three to four times more than a typical light lager. Drinks such as Guinness owe their dark colour to malt and contain moderate levels of hops.
Inevitably, the wowsers are having their say.
Alcohol Concern warns you should only drink beer within recommended limits – two to three units
Yeah, Alf can go along with that. He was always one for preaching moderation.
But how big is a unit?
Alf will be recommending to the Eketahuna Club management committee it be defined as a gallon.