Saturday, November 3, 2007

Beer: The Liquid Defibrillator

For those that didn't know, our good friend and colleague Mark Allgeier from Cumberland Brews, recently had an unfortunate episode. An uneasy feeling and shortness of breath led him to drive to the emergency room where it turns out he had a heart attack. Apparently, his heart stopped for about two minutes but started up again after a few jolts, bringing him back to life. Mark has been know to have a few beers from time to time and so I began to wonder what kind of effect beer has on a person's heart. It turns out that there is a wealth of information about how beer HELPS the heart.

In Science Daily it is reported that a group of Israeli researchers conducted studies on a group of men with coronary artery disease. They found that drinking one beer per day for a month produced changes in blood chemistry that are associated with reduced risk of heart attack. Specifically beer's high polyphenol content helps decrease "bad" cholesterol and increases "good" cholesterol, it also increased antioxidant levels and decreases levels and activity of fibrinogen, a clot-producing protein.

Some would argue that all alcoholic beverages have the same anti-clotting ability so it's not the beer that helps the heart, it's the alcohol. Well that may be true, but another study says that beer goes above and beyond in its beneficial impact on coronary heart disease. The study, by and Innsbruck Medical University team found that beer blocks "interferon-gamma-induced chemical processes." More specifically, beer offers an anti-inflammatory effect by blocking the interferon-gamma which inhibits the production of neopterin and the degradation of tryptophan by suppressing T-cell response. All right, I don't know what any of this really means but it sounds awesome. But the most interesting part of the study was the the same effects were present in alcohol-free beers, implying that it was the beer itself, not the alcohol that produced the benefits.

So what does this mean to us? Well maybe instead of going to the hospital Mark should have chugged a beer. Possibly, instead of the electric shock paddles they should have an emergency beer bong. And finally, from now on CPR won't be cardiopulmonary resuscitation but Can of Pabst's blue Ribbon.

never trust The Sober Brewer
Jerry Gnagy