An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

The Gauntlet

Researchers: beer boosts the mind, bolsters the heart

At a National Beer Wholesalers Association press event on June 5 in New York City leading researchers stated, “Eat right, exercise, and drink a beer a day.”

Norman Kaplan, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Eric Rimm, Sc.D., associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, presented research information indicating that moderate beer consumption may help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and diabetes, as well as help control obesity. Although red wine has long been touted as the healthiest type of alcohol, new research shows that beer is just as good, or possibly even better than wine or spirits when it comes to health protection. New evidence also suggests that alcohol may help increase bone density, reducing the risk of fractures.

Moderate alcohol consumption, generally defined as a drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men, is associated with lower all-cause mortality than either abstinence or heavy drinking. Science regarding the health effects of beer continues to develop, and the health consequences of consumption may vary from person to person. People of legal drinking age should consult their family physician about the health effects of responsible alcohol consumption.


Bill addresses arsenic-removal technology
and desalination research

Looking to get the Southwest past a "zero sum game" in terms of future water supplies, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici introduced legislation in June to find new water sources for communities facing dwindling water supplies and big bills to remove impurities such as arsenic from the water they do have.

Domenici’s bill, the Water Supply Technologies Act of 2002, is designed to facilitate short- and long-term initiatives for increasing the amount of affordable water for residential, agricultural, and business uses. The bill would create a Water Supply Technologies program within the Department of Energy.

The legislation would also give the Environmental Protection Agency more latitude in extending compliance deadlines for arsenic water standards for communities willing to deploy the latest technological advances in arsenic removal. In cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, the legislation would also bring greater focus and funding to desalination research.

"This bill is part of my broad strategy for dealing with water quality and quantity issues in New Mexico and around the nation. It will focus on the availability of water and on opportunities for increasing our supplies. Hopefully, we can turn our water future into something other than a zero-sum game," Domenici said. "My bill will help with short-term challenges like meeting arsenic mandates and longer-term issues like cost-effective desalination technologies and better modeling to enable optimum utilization of the water in our major river basins.

“As scarcity of water intensifies, more and more energy will be needed to obtain and treat it. Water will be pumped from greater depths and carried over greater distances. More treatment will be needed as we use less pure resources,” Domenici said.

The bill also has a homeland-security component, authorizing the American Water Works Research Foundation to develop tools for early warning of hazardous contaminants in municipal water works.

Last August, Domenici also authored the Water Supply Security Act of 2001 (S.1309), a bill that directed the Bureau and the DOE to collaborate on evaluating current technology, advising on additional research, and building a facility to test and prepare desalination technologies for "real-world applications." S.1309 would provide the DOE with $6 million per year from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2008 to construct and operate a Tularosa Basin desalination test and evaluation facility, with the potable water produced by the facility given to communities in Otero County free of charge.

The northeast portion of the Tularosa Basin, approximately fifty miles wide and two hundred miles long, is estimated to contain over two hundred million acre-feet of saline water.

Domenici is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds DOE and the Bureau. In fiscal year 2002, $4 million was provided to support the Bureau's Desalination and Water Purification Research and Development Program.

NIH awards $1.2 million to UNM research team to prevent blindness

Arup Das, an associate professor of ophthalmology at the UNM School of Medicine, recently received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for research to prevent blindness due to diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Dr. Das will be collaborating with Dr. Paul McGuire, an associate professor of cell biology and physiology, to develop pharmacological approaches that will suppress neovascularization (the growth of new blood vessels in the eye) and will not include the side effects of laser treatment. For patients with macular degeneration, the study will investigate the use of drugs to inhibit proteolytic (protein-degrading) enzymes and stop neovascularization.

The risk of blindness in persons with diabetes is twenty-five times greater than the general population and diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults in the United States, where there are now some seventeen million people with diabetes.