Beer constituents as potential cancer chemopreventive agents

Eur J Cancer. 2005 Sep;41(13):1941-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.04.012.


Beer is a complex alcoholic beverage made from barley (malt), hop, water and yeast. Phenolic constituents of beer are derived from malt (70-80%) and hop (20-30%). Structural classes include simple phenols, benzoic- and cinnamic acid derivatives, coumarins, catechins, di-, tri- and oligomeric proanthocyanidins, (prenylated) chalcones and flavonoids as well as alpha- and iso-alpha-acids derived from hop. Compounds belonging to different structural classes have distinct profiles of biological activity in in vitro test systems, and in combination might lead to enhanced effects. Scientific evidence has accumulated over the past 10 years pointing to the cancer preventive potential of selected hop-derived beer constituents, i.e., prenylflavonoids including xanthohumol and isoxanthohumol, and hop bitter acids. Chemopreventive activities observed with these compounds relevant to inhibition of carcinogenesis at the initiation, promotion and progression phases, as well as results from in vivo studies on metabolism, bioavailability and efficacy are summarised in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / analysis
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / analysis
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Beer* / analysis
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Edible Grain
  • Estrogen Antagonists / analysis
  • Flavonoids / analysis
  • Humans
  • Humulus
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Prevalence


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Carcinogens
  • Estrogen Antagonists
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols