What is ALCOHOL FLUSH REACTION? What does ALCOHOL FLUSH REACTION mean? ALCOHOL FLUSH REACTION meaning – ALCOHOL FLUSH REACTION definition – ALCOHOL FLUSH REACTION explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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Alcohol flush reaction is a condition in which an individual develops flushes or blotches associated with erythema on the face, neck, shoulders, and in some cases, the entire body after consuming alcoholic beverages. The reaction is the result of an accumulation of acetaldehyde, a metabolic byproduct of the catabolic metabolism of alcohol, and is caused by an acetaldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency.
This syndrome has been associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer in those who drink. It has also been associated with lower than average rates of alcoholism, possibly due to its association with adverse effects after drinking alcohol.
Approximately 36% of East Asians (Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and Chinese) show characteristic physiological responses to drinking alcohol that includes facial flushing, nausea, headaches and tachycardia.
Individuals who experience the alcohol flushing reaction may be less prone to alcoholism. Disulfiram, a drug sometimes given as treatment for alcoholism, works by inhibiting acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, causing a five to tenfold increase in the concentration of acetaldehyde in the body. The resulting irritating flushing reaction tends to discourage affected individuals from drinking.
For measuring the level of flush reaction to alcohol, the most accurate method is to determine the level of acetaldehyde in the blood stream. This can be measured through both a breathalyzer test or a blood test. Additionally, measuring the amount of alcohol metabolizing enzymes alcohol dehydrogenases and aldehyde dehydrogenase through genetic testing can predict the amount of reaction that one would have. More crude measurements can be made through measuring the amount of redness in the face of an individual after consuming alcohol. Computer and phone applications can be used to standardize this measurement.
Other effects include “nausea, headache and general physical discomfort”.
Many cases of alcohol-induced respiratory reactions, which involve rhinitis and worsening of asthma, develop within 1–60 minutes of drinking alcohol and are due to the same causes as flush reactions.
Around 80% of Asian people (less common in Thailand, Laos and the Indian subcontinent) have a variant of the gene coding for the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase called ADH1B, whereas almost all Japanese, Korean and Chinese peoples have a variant of the gene called ADH1C, both resulting in an alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme that converts alcohol to toxic acetaldehyde at a much higher efficiency than other gene variants (40- to 100-fold in case of ADH1B).
In about 50% of Asians, the increased acetaldehyde accumulation is worsened by another gene variant, the mitochondrial ALDH2 allele, which results in a less functional acetaldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme, responsible for the breakdown of acetaldehyde. The result is that affected people may be better at metabolizing alcohol, often not feeling the alcohol “buzz” to the same extent as others, but show far more acetaldehyde-based side effects while drinking.