"Xanthohumol has been shown to be a very active substance against cancer," says Markus Herrmann, Ph.D. in Munich, Germany.
Xanthohumol is found in hops -- the main ingredient in beer. And even though hops aren't new, scientists have found something new inside hops: xanthohumol, or xan, that is a powerful antioxidant.
"It comes in small sticky beads, which you find within the hops," Dr. Herrmann says.
Xanthohumol inhibits a family of enzymes called cytochromes P-450 that can activate the cancer process. It also helps the body detoxify carcinogens, topping tumor growth at an early stage. Preliminary studies at Oregon State University show that xan can kill breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers.
"It's very healthy. I think the ingredients in the beer are very good," says Prof. Werner Back of Brewing Technology at the Technical University of Munich.
Xanthohumol contains more powerful antioxidants than vitamin E. But its health benefits don't stop there. Studies are now showing it also reduces the oxidation of LDL, or bad cholesterol. But just drinking more beer won't do the trick.
It would take 60 regular beers to equal the amount of xan that German researchers are able to brew in this one beer. That's why scientists are now working on ways to give all beers higher levels of xanthohumol and even find ways to add it to other foods, like chocolate, making even bad things good for you.
Studies are not final yet, but antioxidants aren't the only things being found beneficial in hops. Some compounds found in hops are potent phytoestrogens and could ultimately help prevent post-menopausal "hot flashes" and osteoporosis.
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