Cardiology: When Beer Brought the Blues

The 39-year-old Quebec stevedore complained of stomach pains, weight loss, nausea, shortness of breath and a cough. Most frightening of all, his face had turned a morbid blue-grey. Doctors suspected a severe vitamin deficiency, but when 49 identical cases appeared within seven months in the Quebec area, they questioned their first diagnosis.

Twenty of the patients died, some within 24 hours after entering the hospital. Autopsies revealed crippling damage to the heart muscle and also the liver. Searching for some common denominator, Drs. Yves Morin, Andre Tétu and Gaston Mercier found that they all drank an uncommon amount of beer—a...

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