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Read Original Story

Nonalcoholic Beer Aids Marathon Recovery

Rating

2 Star

Categories

Nonalcoholic Beer Aids Marathon Recovery

Our Review Summary

The story states that it’s reporting on “a new study” but it never explains that the study is only an abstract of a presentation given at a professional meeting. Thus the data have not been peer-reviewed,  and no detailed methods or results are available.  The only perspective on the research comes from the lead author, and no other alternatives for marathon recovery are discussed.   

The story specifically states that the beer was only effective if it was nonalcoholic. However, this was not tested, so this is unknown. In addition, the properties of the nonalcoholic beer that might be responsible for the beneficial effects are not known, since it’s not clear what placebo beverage was used. The lead researcher is quoted as hypothesizing  that the beneficial effects of the beer might be due to the presence of polyphenols, but there is no evidence to support this. The story then focuses in on polyphenols, discussing other foods that contain large amounts of polyphenols.

 

Why This Matters

Running a marathon can be grueling and can result in reduced immune function,  which can lead to an increase in upper respiratory tract infections such as colds.  Athletes, from weekend warriors to professionals,  could benefit from treatments or products that aid recovery.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Discussion of costs is relatively unimportant as most individuals would know how much beer costs.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story did quantify the benefits of one parameter by quoting the abstract “incidence of upper respiratory tract infections was 3.25-fold lower” – but it was not mentioned that these were self-reported upper respiratory tract infections.

The story mentions that there was ‘significantly less evidence of inflammation….and lower counts of white blood cells than the placebo group” but does not provide numbers. The story also states that the ‘beer experiment’ showed benefits of minimizing post-race damage. But the study didn’t measure damage, it measured blood markers of immune function.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

In the study, participants consumed 1-1.5 liters/day of non-alcoholic beer (or a placebo) for 5 weeks total. There could be several potential adverse effects such as weight gain from extra calorie consumption, imbalances in nutrients if the liquid replaced other fluids, etc.
No potential harms were mentioned.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The quality of evidence in the research study was low as it was a non-peer reviewed abstract that was presented at a scientific meeting only, and this is not mentioned.

While the treatment (non-alcoholic beer) was compared to a placebo in a double-blinded design, the nature of the placebo is not known, other than that it was a beverage.

The research does not mention whether numerous important factors were controlled in the study design (the training regimens of the participants, their diets, their total beverage consumption, etc) and these extensive limitations are not mentioned in the story.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

No disease mongering. Marathon running was described as “punishing to the body, causing muscle soreness and inflammation.” This is accurate.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story quotes the lead author extensively.  Unfortunately, no other independent perspectives are provided.
No potential conflicts of interest are noted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The article does not mention potential alternatives that might aid marathon recovery, including any other dietary alterations, and does not discuss the advantages and disadvantages compared with any other approaches.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  The availability of nonalcoholic beer is not in question.

However, it is not clear from the original abstract whether the type of beer matters, as the brand and/or the characteristics (such as calories) were not provided. This is not mentioned in the story. (note: the brand was provided in a press release)

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The treatment, beer, is not novel, and is not presented as such. Other substances that also contain the purported active ingredient, polyphenols, are discussed.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

There was an American College of Sports Medicine news release for the abstract, but it doesn’t appear to have been relied upon.  Maybe it should have been, since the news release actually includes a disclaimer the story did not include – that the research was presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

Total Score: 3 of 8 Satisfactory

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