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  • For most people when they drink alcohol

  • it can make them feel more confident and comfortable

  • But for me, drinking makes me feel less confident and uncomfortable

  • That's because thanks to my DNA...

  • alcohol makes my skin turn red

  • It's called the Asian Flush

  • And it affects about 36% of North East Asians with higher rates among Asian Americans.

  • I guess we should probably show you what it looks like

  • "For Science!"

  • "If I know that I'm gonna need to take pictures that I'll drink less until these pictures are over

  • and then I'll go back to normal pace"

  • People tend to assume that a red face means that we're drunk

  • but that's a myth

  • These are completely separate processes

  • Facial flushing whether from embarrassment, or exercise, or alcohol...

  • It happens when the blood vessels under the surface of the skin dilate.

  • And in the case of Asian flush, this is part of an immune response

  • The body is detecting a threat

  • The threat isn't the alcohol itself

  • but a substance that our livers produce while breaking down alcohol

  • "For me at least, the warmth starts in my chest and then it moves its way up."

  • "My cheeks are warm, my ears are warm..."

  • "It's weird. It's like my eyes are almost puffy"

  • "Ahh I do feel like they got puffy..."

  • When people drink ethanol, that's the chemical name for booze.

  • The liver gets rid of it using two main enzymes.

  • The first reacts with the ethanol molecule to produce a substance called acetaldehyde.

  • And the second quickly turns acetaldehyde into acetate, which is similar to vinegar and easy for the body to eliminate.

  • It's that second enzyme that really screws things up for people with Asian flush.

  • If you look inside our DNA

  • you'll find that the gene providing the instructions for that enzyme

  • was tweaked at some point in our history

  • And that gene mutation produces an inactive enzyme

  • So when we drink our bodies accumulate acetaldehyde

  • at a level about 6 times higher than normal people

  • If acetaldehyde sounds familiar that maybe because it's similar to formaldehyde

  • It's toxic

  • That's why it triggers the immune responds

  • And the red face is really the least of it

  • After having that one beer

  • I didn't feel tipsy at all, but my heart rate doubled

  • My eyes were bloodshot, and within half hour I had a headache

  • Even worse, acetaldehyde can cause cancer

  • It's a problem because people can actually develop a tolerance to Asian flush

  • and that allows them to drink pretty heavily

  • Studies have shown that heavy drinking raises the risk of esophageal cancer for everyone

  • but especially for people with Asian flush

  • So it's potentially problematic that alcohol consumption in Asia has been increasing

  • especially in China

  • So if you have an Asian flush, be careful

  • Your body is freaking out for a reason

  • And if you don't flush...just don't expect us to keep up with you

  • And also...

  • "You don't have to bring it up every time...like, yes I know that you're red..."

  • "I know this, thanks, awesome..."

For most people when they drink alcohol

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B1 US Vox flush asian alcohol enzyme drink

Asian flush, explained

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    Sabrina Hsu posted on 2016/11/07
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