Nuns drink beer for humanity
who drank beer for 45 days straight as part of a medical research project
are part of a growing trend to study nuns whose unique healthy, celibate
lifestyle makes them ideal for such purposes. Every year hundreds of
Catholic nuns are weighed, measured, poked and prodded in the name of
medical research, the US ABC News reports.
study recently conducted by the Centre for Information on Beer and
Health in Spain, 50 nuns drank a half-liter of beer every day for 45
Six months later they took 400 milligrams of hops, reported Reuters.
The study found that cholesterol rates fell by 6 percent in those
sisters with high levels.
"We did it for the good of humanity," Sr Almerinda Alvarez told the
newspaper El Pais.
Sr Almerinda's American counterparts, who have participated in
studies on osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and other ailments,
could not agree more.
Scientists believe nuns' unique lifestyles, free of sex and
children, and the similar health conditions that nuns share with one
another, make them an ideal group for broad scientific studies.
And the nuns' willingness to volunteer for studies - some of which
follow them for decades - is part of the reason why scientists like
working with them.
"One of the major reasons we looked at nuns was because of their
altruism," said David Snowdon, director of the Nun Study at the
University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
Snowdon's Nun Study, an effort to discover indicators for
Alzheimer's disease, has tracked 678 members of the School Sisters
of Notre Dame congregation.In addition to their altruism, the nuns
were chosen because Snowdon's team wanted to isolate factors in
early life that may contribute to Alzheimer's disease, and the nuns'
similar lifestyles made them a good control group - after the nuns
took their vows, many aspects of their lives, including diet and
access to health care, were the same for all of them.
The study initially compared the autobiographies of 93 nuns born
before 1917 and written when they first took their vows in their
The scientists found that those nuns who wrote more complicated
sentences as young women were less likely to develop Alzheimer's in
The researchers believe this may offer evidence early in life that
indicates a likelihood of later developing Alzheimer's.
"We had a window into their early lives that we don't normally get
once someone begins losing their memory," Snowdon said.
"We could go back and look at the archives - histories,
autobiographies, high school transcripts -and see a version of them
60 to 80 years before they developed Alzheimer's disease."