Researchers at Oregon State University are looking into the cancer protective effects of a flavonoid found in hops, the plants that give beer its bitter flavor. The flavonoid, xanthohumol, can help protect against cancer, at least in cell culture. Investigators at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State have found xanthohumol to be active against breast, colon, and ovarian cancer when these cancer cell lines were grown and treated under lab conditions. The flavonoid might also help prevent prostate cancer. In addition, hops appears to have other health benefits: an extract has been shown to decrease hot flashes in menopausal women, and ongoing studies of the effect of one hops compound may lead to a new approach to weight loss. In animal studies, the compound promoted either outright weight loss or prevented the animals from gaining as much weight as untreated animals. Don’t stock up on beer yet, though, as it doesn’t contain enough xanthohumol to provide any of the potential health benefits. How much xanthohumol would be needed to protect against cancer, control hot flashes and help us lose weight is still being investigated.
“An interview with Fred Stevens, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry LPI Principal Investigator,” Linus Pauling Institute Research Newsletter, accessed December 6, 2013, http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/fw10/vitamincbeer.html
“Hops”, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website, accessed December 7, 2013, http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/hops