Ingredient in Beer May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Hops could lower risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Although hops are used to make beer, it is also found in dietary supplements to help treat post-menopausal symptoms.

Scientists in a study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology discovered that extracts from this plant may have anti breast cancer effects. Researchers have long thought that exposure to estrogen could be among the risk factors associated with the development of breast cancer, especially in post-menopausal women.

Typically, menopausal women will use hormone replacement therapy to help alleviate symptoms, but it has been linked to an increase in heart disease and breast cancer. The link has caused some women to choose a more natural alternative by taking hops supplements that contain phytoestrogens, but the effects on cancer risk are still unclear.

Prior preliminary lab studies suggested an association between certain active compounds in hops, and potential preventative properties. The researchers decided to use an enriched hop extract to test its effects on estrogen metabolism.

The extract was applied to 2 different breast cell lines in order to observe how they affect estrogen metabolism. Researchers found that a hops compound called 6-prenylnaringenin (6-PN) boosted the cell’s detoxification pathway, which other studies have associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.

Although the findings suggest that 6-PN may have anti cancer effects, more research needs to be done to investigate its potential, the researchers concluded.