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Hops, Key to Flavor in Beer, May Prove Useful in New Drugs

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Age-old wisdom has suggested that a bit of beer might be good for you. Now, new information suggests that the bitter compounds in beer might aid in the development of new drugs for diabetes, some types of cancer and other health problems.

In the new study, researchers determined the precise configuration of humulones, substances derived from hops that give beer its unique flavor.

"Now that we have the right results, what happens to the bitter hops in the beer-brewing process makes a lot more sense," study lead author Werner Kaminsky, a University of Washington research associate professor of chemistry, said in a university news release.

The study was published in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Previous research has suggested that moderate consumption of beer -- and therefore its bitter compounds -- might have positive effects on diseases such as diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as aiding weight loss and decreasing inflammation.

The new findings could help scientists determine which humulones might prove useful in efforts to develop new drugs, Kaminsky said.

The authors wrote in their report that while "excessive beer consumption cannot be recommended to propagate good health . . . isolated humulones and their derivatives can be prescribed with documented health benefits."

The study was funded by KinDex Therapeutics of Seattle, where Kaminsky's co-authors are employed.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about alcohol and public health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Washington, news release, Jan. 29, 2013

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