Away From the Bench

The world outside of the lab

Is Beer Making your Manboobs?

The amount of misinformation that the public gets from internet sources sometimes astonishes me.  People write about things they don’t understand and create rumors, perpetuate myths, or just plain make things up.  As I love good beer and am also a scientist, this article was brought to my attention (being passed around via email) and I decided to do some calculations to get to the truth.

Basically, the author on the Peak Testosterone website cites two peer-reviewed scientific articles to claim that hops have very high amounts of phytoestrogens (plant estrogens); therefore drinking beer is “anti-testosterone”.  Ok, I’m going to gloss over the fact that this person even wrote that phrase and that this website is dedicated to erectile strength.  The problem is people read these things and take them at face value all the time.

So let’s look at the real facts:

According to another peer-reviewed scientific article that actually measured the concentration of the hop phytoestrogen 8-prenylnaringenin (I’ll now refer to this as 8-PN) in different beers, one liter of beer contains between 0-19.8 micrograms of 8-PN.  The study that Peak Testosterone cites gave 7.5 milligrams 8-PN orally to 250 gram rats to reduce hot flashes (these rats did not produce their own estrogen because their ovaries were removed).  That means, for a 150 pound person, you would have to consume 2 grams (we’re talking 2 million micrograms) of 8-PN a day to use it as an estrogen hormone replacement.  That’s only 100,000 LITERS of beer.  So guys, don’t worry that the hops in beer will cause erectile dysfunction…if anything, it’ll be the alcohol.

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