'Asian flush' red flag for risk of cancer

Diane Mapes writes:Between the brisk cold and the holiday cheer, many of us get a little red in the face this time of year. But for some people of Asian descent, a New Year’s toast – or even a few beers after work – will trigger a bright red blush known as the “Asian flush,” which can also increase their risk of deadly esophageal cancer.
“When I drink, the skin in my face and even all the way down to my waist will start to turn red,” says Patrick McMahon, a 30-year-old education director from Seattle, who’s half-Japanese. “I think the blood vessels dilate and I get very flushed. It’s often mistaken for a sunburn.”
That response is typical for about a third of people from East Asian descent, says Philip J. Brooks, an investigator with the Division of Metabolism and Health Affects at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“It happens predominantly in individuals of Japanese, Chinese or Korean descent,” he says. “People who have this will get a facial flush and a headache and will feel nauseous at the time they’re drinking. And it’s not just flushing. They’ll also get an increased heart rate. It’s a pretty unpleasant experience.”
What causes this reaction?
Brooks says it’s basically a genetic inability to properly metabolize alcohol (or ethanol) which, thanks to enzymes in the liver, is normally metabolized first into the toxic chemical acetaldehyde – an animal carcinogen that causes DNA damage and other cancer-promoting effects — and then into the harmless substance acetate. People with the flushing response have a genetic deficiency in the alcohol-metabolizing enzyme ALDH2, which can lead to an accumulation of the toxic substance acetaldehyde.

Continuing story

The Alcohol Flushing Response: An Unrecognized Risk Factor for Esophageal Cancer from Alcohol Consumption

Editorial Note

I think the best advice is stay away from alcohol. This article might do the trick!

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