Japan reports: Beer mitigates radiation damage?

Drinking beer may mitigate some of the dire medical effects of radiation, say many hope-filled twitterings from Japan. Radiation is much on people’s minds because of the recent earthquake-induced nuclear power-plant problems.

Discussion centers on a 2005 report from Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences. (HT Mark Schreiber.) The report is written in Japanese. A partial machine-translation renders this into English as:

Check the ingredients NIRS beer ・ radioprotective effect in mice demonstrated radioprotective effect in human blood cells and is up to 34% TUS research team also

NIRS (Yasuhito Sasaki Chairman), particle beam therapy is a biological research group in collaboration with the Radiation Laboratory of Pharmacy and Life Science Tokyo University of Science, human blood cells and that the protective effect of the radiation component of beer In experiments using mice revealed….

There is also earlier published research on the question, including this study, which is available free online:

Drinking Beer Reduces Radiation-induced Chromosome Aberrations in Human Lymphocytes,” Manami Monobe and Koichi Ando, Journal of Radiation Research, vol. 43, no. 3, 2002, pp. 237-245. The authors, respectively at Chiba University and at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, report:

“We here investigated and reported the effects of beer drinking on radiation-induced chromosome aberrations in blood lymphocytes. Human blood that was collected either before or after drinking a 700 ml beer was in vitro irradiated with 200 kVp X rays or 50 keV/μm carbon ions. The relation between the radiation dose and the aberration frequencies (fragments and dicentrics) was significantly (p < 0.05) lower for lymphocytes collected 3 h after beer drinking than those before drinking. Fitting the dose response to a linear quadratic model showed that the alpha term of carbon ions was significantly (p < 0.05) decreased by beer drinking…. It is concluded that beer could contain non-ethanol elements that reduce the chromosome damage of lymphocytes induced by high-LET radiation.”