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Anti-cancer Compound In Beer Gaining Interest

A compound found only in hops and the main product they are used in - beer - has rapidly gained interest as a micronutrient that might help prevent many types of cancer.

Researchers at Oregon State University first discovered the cancer-related properties of this flavonoid compound called xanthohumol about 10 years ago. A recent publication by an OSU researcher in the journal Phytochemistry outlines the range of findings made since then. And many other scientists in programs around the world are also beginning to look at the value of these hops flavonoids for everything from preventing prostate or colon cancer to hormone replacement therapy for women.

"Xanthohumol is one of the more significant compounds for cancer chemoprevention that we have studied," said Fred Stevens, a researcher with OSU's Linus Pauling Institute and an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in the College of Pharmacy. "The published literature and research on its properties are just exploding at this point, and there's a great deal of interest."

Quite a bit is now known about the biological mechanism of action of this compound and the ways it may help prevent cancer or have other metabolic value. But even before most of those studies have been completed, efforts are under way to isolate and market it as a food supplement. A "health beer" with enhanced levels of the compound is already being developed.

"We can't say that drinking beer will help prevent cancer," Stevens said. "Most beer has low levels of this compound, and its absorption in the body is also limited. But if ways can be developed to significantly increase the levels of xanthohumol or use it as a nutritional supplement - that might be different. It clearly has some interesting cancer chemopreventive properties, and the only way people are getting any of it right now is through beer consumption."

Xanthohumol was actually first discovered in 1913, isolated as a yellow substance found in hop
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Source:Oregon State University


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