Need an excuse to pop open a cold one after a long, stressful day this holiday season? Here you go: According to a recent study, the chemical compound humulone (found in beer ingredient hops) protects against the respiratory syncytial virus (which can cause pneumonia). Cheers! I always knew beer was good for me, you're probably thinking to yourself smugly as you reach for the bottle opener.
Um, yeah ... don't get too excited. You know the old saying: If it seems too good to be true ... it's probably a study about beer's benefits funded by Sapporo Medical Universities and reported by Japan's Sapporo Breweries. Hmmm. Beer! It's a wonder drug!
Seriously, these findings about humulone actually are pretty interesting and possibly very relevant. But probably not yet, and probably not for you.
First of all, the syncytial virus isn't that big of a deal for adults. Infected grown-ups usually just develop cold-like symptoms, whereas infants and toddlers can end up severely ill. And not to make a sweeping generalization, but most infants and/or toddlers aren't really big beer drinkers.
Not to mention the fact that you'd have to drink about 30 cans of beer to get enough humulone to keep any viral nasties away. Let's see, which is worse: Virus or alcohol poisoning? Gee, that's a real toss-up.
Researchers are trying to figure out a way to extract the good stuff from humulone so they can turn it into a non-alcoholic medicine for babies and kids, which is why I say this study could turn out to be very relevant. Eventually.
Still, between this new info and previous studies linking moderate alcohol consumption with an increased resistance to the common cold, it's probably safe to say that a drink to your health can't hurt ... and it might help! (A drink does not = 30 cans of beer. Just a reminder.)
Do you think beer has health benefits?
Image via Francis Storr/Flickr