We love to drink but the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with numerous serious medical, social, and legal problems that exact a high human and economic price. Alcohol has strong, renowned estrogenic effects (1). In excess, it’s a testicle toxin that drives down testosterone even in otherwise healthy men (2).
Recently, there was a claim that certain alcoholic tipple, especially IPA (India pale ale) beer could cause unwanted moobs, due to the hops contains phytoestrogens. Let us explore IPA beer and estrogen, India pale ale (IPA) is a hoppy beer style within the broader category of pale ale. Phytoestrogens are compounds that naturally occur in plants but they behave like estrogen in the body.
In the book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, herbalist Stephen Herrod Buhner describes the three standard uses of hops in herbal medicine: as a sleep inducer; as a diuretic that successfully promotes urine flow; and finally, as a natural source of phytoestrogen to treat menopause and endometriosis. Herrod warned that both brewers and bartenders in England know this all too well: “[From] long-term exposure to the estrogenic properties of hops, [they] eventually have difficulty sustaining erection.”
Is it true? Does beer cause man breasts?
According to Richard van Breemen, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy in Chicago.
“It’s true that there is a minute quantity of [the estrogen-like compound, known as] 8-prenylnaringenin, in hops, and there ought to be a trace of it in beer, but I would say the levels are too low to function as a [hormone] disruptor.”
Hops, the female flowers of the hop plant (Humulus lupulus), are the flavoring agent that gives beer, especially India pale ale, its bitter taste. The flowers contain a tiny amount of the phytoestrogen, and studies of this compound have found that it may have some effects on the human hormonal system. But the amount of it in beer “just isn’t enough” to affect male sexual function, van Breemen said.
In fact, another compound, called xanthohumol, is much more abundant in beer than 8-prenylnaringenin, and has well-known cancer-fighting properties, said van Breemen. As of yet, there hasn’t been any conclusive research on this compound in beer, though.
If anything, the primary health problems related to drinking beer are related to its high calorie content and its alcohol content, said Van Breemen. Warnings that drinking to excess will expand the waistline only concerned just over a quarter, or 27 per cent.
The survey for the Department of Health’s Know Your Limits campaign also found even fewer were bothered about developing a flabby chest, with only 16 per cent admitting it was something they feared.
And just 9 per cent thought that excessive drinking was affecting their sexual performance.
Nearly 1,000 drinkers were questioned for the poll, which found that 37 per cent men claimed they would reduce their drinking to cut down on the number of calories consumed.
The NHS recommends no more than three to four units a day – equivalent to less than two pints of beer.
According to the Office of National Statistics, an estimated 6.3 million men in England regularly drink above this.
The YouGov survey revealed more than one in three men, 36 per cent, were worried booze was risking their long-term health, and more than one in five, or 22 per cent, felt it was affecting their general health and wellbeing.
Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men’s Health Forum, said: “It’s clear men are more concerned about the impact of their drinking on their bodies than we might imagine.
“Many of us only begin to see the visual evidence of our drinking habits as we get older and start to carry excess baggage, but excessive drinking can also take its toll beneath the skin.
“Most of us enjoy a drink from time to time, and that’s fine. But more men ought to be aware that drinking a couple of pints of beer or sharing a bottle of wine most days of the week can push them over the recommended limits, increasing their risk of liver disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke.”
Gillian Merron, Public Health Minister, said: “Our survey shows that more and more men are worried about alcohol ruining their looks. It is encouraging that they are also thinking about their health.
The good news is you are allowed to drink with one condition, do not drunk. One glass is great and a second glass fine but more than that you’re treading into dangerous, estrogen-soaked territory. All the antioxidants in the world couldn’t drag you out of there. However, your testosterone levels start bouncing back the second you quit boozing (3).