Could a beer a day keep the doctor away?

The Tweet: “One study estimates that a bottle of beer consumed every day reduces the risk of kidney stones by 40%.”

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if something that you enjoy and are repeatedly told is bad for you actually had a health benefit? In the case of beer, some researchers say this exactly what it does. But before you try to fit in another round before last orders, here is what the research shows.

Scientists from the Department of Nutrition in Finland studied 27,001 Finnish men over 5 years to see how diet affected risk of kidney stones. The participants were all male smokers, aged 50-69 and free from kidney stones at the start of the study. They found that magnesium and potassium in the diet reduced the risk of kidney stones, and sodium and fibre increased the risk. Beer was identified as one source of magnesium in the diet. “Beer consumption was inversely associated with risk of kidney stones; each bottle of beer consumed per day was estimated to reduce risk by 40%,” wrote the researchers.

As we have seen before, any study on a small range of people should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here the researchers looked at a group of people who are highly susceptible to kidney stones on the basis that this will teach us the most about the high risk group. This is perfectly logical and a common time and money saving way to conduct research, but it means that the results are not applicable to the rest of society.

It would be a bad idea to drink a beer each day in an attempt to avoid kidney stones. Essentially the research suggests increasing potassium and magnesium and cutting out salts in your diet to lower you risk, it just so happens that beer was one of the main sources for these minerals in the diets of Finnish men. Equally, the effects of the beer will not increase indefinitely, despite the researchers saying that each bottle reduces the risk. A beer a day is a pretty bad method of keeping kidney stones away.

Image: Mike/ Flickr

This post was first published on The Untweetable Truth (28/02/2014)

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