Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dave’s 800-1000 Word Dissertation on Beer...and Other Manly Insights

Man, four years flies by fast. It seems like just yesterday that my parents drove me to AU to attend college. My mom teared up as she imparted some of the most poorly chosen words of wisdom I’ve ever heard. She said to me, “David, college is a fountain of wisdom, and you’re here to drink”. After hugging my parents goodbye, and promptly ditching them to go have dinner with a cute girl that I had met mere minutes earlier, I set out to drink from that fountain. And drink I did.

A couple years later and here we are, learning how to communicate the concepts we've learned. During our Sr. Seminar course, Dr. Posner has given us some very useful advice on how to present data. My approach is to mix humor with factual information in an attempt to keep the material lively and engaging. I will probably always remember Dr. Posner saying that if the audience walks away with two take home messages, the presentation was a relative success. I’ve left college with two take home messages...and feel relatively successful.

Take Home Message #1: College is a collection of classrooms where you sit for roughly 1,500 hours trying to memorize things. The rest of the time is spent napping and trying to get dates. Therefore, avoid choosing a major that involves “known facts” or “right answers”. Philosophy is generally a good choice because from my understanding you sit in a room, decide that reality doesn’t exist, and then go to convo for lunch.

Take Home Message #2: The things you learn in college can be thrown into one of two categories. The first are things you need to know later in life. It will take about 2 hours of your college career to learn all of these. The other 1,498 hours are spent learning things you will not need later in life. These things typically end in –ics, -ology, istry, ect. The key here is to write the things you learn in these classes down in little examination books and then forget it. Those of you who fail to forget it will inevitably become university professors and be forced to stay in school the rest of your adult life.

But I digress. My undergraduate career in biology has taught me a few things I know with relative certainty. For instance, the hormone testosterone plays a key role in promoting muscle development, bone mass, and the inability to stop pressing the channel changer until Cops comes on. It’s also the reason men don’t ask for directions. This is why it takes several million male sperm cells to locate a female egg. Another thing that I’ve learned via my biology career is how to make beer. I like beer. I’ll enjoy a nice brew to celebrate occasions such as the fourth of July, my mom’s birthday, or that my fridge is still working. The beer making process has inspired me to read several papers on the purported benefits of occasionally enjoying a good brew.

For those of you who are completely oblivious to what exactly that golden nectar of the gods is, beer is a fermented beverage comprised of malted cereals and spiced with hops. The fermentation of sugars released in the brewing process results in an alcoholic beverage that is pleasing to drink, and scientifically complicated. Craft beer, much like wine, contains compounds that have been scientifically shown to improve heart health and other proliferative effects. A study conducted in 1999 by Miranda et. al. reported the cytotoxic effects of one such compound on human cancer cell lines. The flavinoid compound present in hops, called xanthohumol was shown to diminish the proliferative activity of human breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer cells in vitro. The researchers treated the cancer cells with a dose dependant amount of the compound to study its effect on the cancer cells. After two days, the growth of the cancer cells was inhibited by 50% at the 13.3 um dose. A 3.47 um dose retarded cancer cell growth by 50% after 4 days. The compound was found to be extremely effective against a stain of ovarian cancer cells in which a 5.2 um dose completely retarded growth of the cells after 4 days (Miranda et. al., 1999). The compound has also proved to be a powerful antioxidant. The implication of this study is that the effective chemical can be refined and used to prevent cancer occurrences.

Figur 1: Xanthohumol Effects on Ovarian Cancer Cell Line

However, the concentration of xanthohumol in most beer has recently been proven to be 0.002-0.628 mg/L-1 using sensitive HPLC quantification (Chen et. al., 2010). Unfortunately, this molecule is present in such minute quantities that one would need to consume nearly 1,300 12 ounce bottles a day for the amount of xanthohuol to be beneficial. Therefore I recommend that you consume 120 gallons of beer daily to reap the benefits.

If you need another reason to drink to your health, it’s been widely demonstrated that light consumption of alcoholic beverages ahs been associated with reduction in cardiovascular related mortality. Moderate alcohol intake has shown to improve lipoprotein metabolism as well (Kondo, 2004). The effects of antioxidants on atherosclerosis have been well documented. Figure 2 in the paper shows the effects of beer, water, and red wine on the antioxidant levels in the blood circulation of rats. The data suggests that the antioxidants in beer may be more easily absorbed than those in red wine.

Figure 2: Antioxidant Levels in Blood

So here’s to you guys. It’s been great getting to know everyone and good luck to you in all your future endeavors. Have a drink to your success thus far. Cheers!


Miranda et. al. “Antiproliferative and Cytotoxic Effects of Prenylted Flavinoids from Hops (Humuls lupulus) in Human Cancer Cells”. Food and Chemical Toxicology. Vol 37, p. 271-285. 1999.

Chen et. al. “Determination of xanthohumol in beer based on cloud point extraction coupled with high performance liquid chromotrography”. Talanta. Vol 81, p. 692-697. 2010.

Kondo, Keiji. “Beer and health: Preventative effects of beer components on lifestyle-related disorders”. Biofactors. Vol 22, p. 303-310. 2004.


  1. I enjoy reading all of your blogs...you have a way of engaging the reader immediately..and you're great at keeping that suspense throughout! :-)

  2. ...and one more thing....is that you in the picture?!!!

  3. Thanks for the compliment! That's exactly what I was going for, so I'm glad my style of writing is at least somewhat effective. As for the picture, no that's one of my unfortunate friends at OSU.

  4. I must say that I also love reading your posts! Your mix of humor and facts is great.
    One question: If you mix drinks, will you get any holistic effects that you would not get from drinking each drink individually?

  5. Not that I know of Pat. I think that self control and moderation are probably what counts.