Japan from the inside out

Good for what ales you?

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, April 10, 2011

Píme pivo s bobkem, jezme bedrník! Nebudeme stonat, nebudeme mřít!
Let’s drink beer with bay laurel, let’s eat pimpernel! We won’t get ill, nor will we die!
– A Czech expression about beer

THE EVENTS in Japan over the past month have been enough to drive a man, or a woman, to drink. The findings of a scientific paper published in August 2005, however, suggest that might not be such a bad idea in the circumstances.

One of the authors of the report, Monobe Manami, was a graduate student at the time at Chiba University. She was participating in the research conducted jointly by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences and the Tokyo University of Science. Now affiliated with the National Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science, Ms. Monobe explains what happened:

“I drank some beer one night at a gathering, and the following day, after they took some blood for the experiment, the results made us sit up and take notice. That’s how it started.”

The experiment involved exposing blood samples to radiation and studying the reaction. Usually, Ms. Monobe didn’t drink on the day before her blood was taken, but this time she had a glass or two just to be sociable. “It wasn’t a lot, and six or seven hours passed before they took the sample, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. What happened was that there were fewer abnormalities in the blood chromosomes than normal.”

Surprised at the results, they repeated the experiment—as if they needed more incentive—and the results were the same. The abnormalities had been reduced by as much as two thirds. The group began to think they were on to something.

They set up another experiment with lab mice, and divided them into four groups. Each group was given a different liquid refreshment: beer, a saline solution, ethanol (alcohol), and non-alcohol beer. (They finally found a use for that last one.) The mice on the real beer diet lived the longest.

Ms. Monobe cautions that the noble brew will not prevent radiation poisoning. “The effect differs depending on the type and the dose of radiation. Randomly drinking beer in these circumstances isn’t going to protect anyone.”

Their curiosity piqued, Japanese journalists began to conduct their own research—in libraries, of course—and discovered corroborating evidence. Akizuki Tatsuichiro, a doctor who treated hibakusha after the Nagasaki atomic bombings, found that alcohol limited the harmful effects. The same phenomenon was observed among those exposed to the radiation of Chernobyl.

A poll conducted last week found that roughly 80% of the respondents thought people shouldn’t get carried away with the traditional Japanese practice of self-restraint; i.e., refraining from holding or participating in celebratory activities after unpleasant events.

Maybe all the business and finance mavens urging people to go about their lives normally should use this paper to buttress their argument!

Here’s a previous post about Japanese scientists using all sorts of hooch for research purposes. Thanks to 2CSM for the link to this Japanese story.

This song, written for an Orion beer commercial in Okinawa, was the Rinken Band’s first big hit. The tune’s a lot better than the beer. (Sorry, Okinawans…)

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2 Responses to “Good for what ales you?”

  1. Marellus said


    I like this …

  2. toadold said

    Maybe they need to ship some beer to the relief areas along with the bottled water.
    The US EX-Rad treatment for nuclear radiation is still in the animal testing phase it is promising but until it or something like it comes along the beer will probably help reduce stress induced illnesses.
    So I’m reading that the US NRC is reconsidering its 80KM exclusionary zone and going for a smaller one. Once commenter said,”I guess the discovered if they followed those dosage levels they’d have to recommend Denver Colarado be evacuated.

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