Acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct caused by the ingestion of alcohol, is an compound formed by an intermediate step in the conversion of sugar to ethanol by yeast.
It is carcinogenic in rodents and causes sister chromatid exchanges and chromosomal aberrations in human cells. It is short lived, usually existing in the body only for a brief time before it is further broken down into acetate, it has the potential to cause significant damage. It is then attacked by another enzyme, Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase, and another substance called glutathione, which contains high quantities of cysteine (a substance that is attracted to Acetaldehyde).
Acetaldehyde is also known by a variety of synonyms which include Acetic Aldehyde, ethanol, ethyl aldehyde and methyl formaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is generally short-lived; it is quickly broken down to a less toxic compound called acetate by another enzyme called Aldehyde Dehydrogenase (aldh-2). People with a condition called Asian Flush or Asian glow can not break down and remove the Acetadehyde as effectively as most people.
Acetaldehyde and Asian Flush
The result of elevated Acetaldehyde in Asian Flush sufferers while drinking alcohol can lead to a variety of bothersome and even embarrassing symptoms including a bright red face (hence the term Asian Flush), congestion, rapid pulse, sweating as well as nausea and headache. Acetaldehyde is a metabolic intermediate in the oxidation of ethanol by liver enzymes. Acetaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen for Asian Flush sufferers who drink on a regular basis without treating the Asian Flush condition with either the No Red Face Formula or NoGlo. Both these over the counter remedies assist the body in production of ALDH-2 which assists in the removal of Acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is a close relative of formaldehyde. It is a poisonous byproduct of alcohol metabolism. It is more toxic than alcohol and is responsible for many hangover symptoms. About 50% of people of northeast Asian descent have a dominant mutation in their Acetaldehyde Aehydrogenase gene making this enzyme less effective at removing Acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is not the only carcinogenic byproduct of alcohol metabolism.