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Beer: Can it help fight off the common cold?

New research suggests a curious connection between public drunkenness and a resistance to colds

Feel a cold coming on? Have a beer. Or 30. 

In a new study from Sapporo — yes, the Japanese brewery — scientists found that humulone, a chemical compound in hops (which give beer its bitter taste), can help protect against the respiratory syncytial virus, or RS for short, which has been linked to cold-like symptoms in adults, says researcher Jun Fuchimoto.

Just one tiny problem. To ingest enough humulone to unlock beer's anti-viral power, you'd have to drink a lot of the brew — around 360 ounces, which works out to about 30 cans. Since that's a tad impractical, the next step, says the team, is to investigate the compound's cold-fighting benefits further and perhaps eventually add it to food and non-alcoholic beverages. 

This study is just the latest to highlight beer's surprising health benefits. Women over 25 who drank beer in moderate amounts were shown to have lower blood pressure than those who opted for wine or spirits. And dark beers often come packing several different B vitamins, as well as calcium, magnesium, and selenium — an important antioxidant that helps the immune system fight off nasty infections.

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