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Asian Flush is a term applied to a genetic disorder that causes up to 50% people of Asian descent to grow flush in the face after consuming alcohol.
Also referred to as Asian Glow and Asian Blush, Asian Flush also affects about 5% of non Asians and 1% of non Asians.
Asian Flush Cause
Asian Flush is genetic and therefore can be passed down by both parents. Asian Flush and its symptoms are cause because of a genetic defect related to the processing and digestion of alcohol in alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol is metabolised in two steps
- conversion of alcohol to Acetaldehyde by the enzyme Alcohol Dehydrogenase.
- conversion of Acetaldehyde to Acetic Acid by enzyme ALDH-2 (Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase).
People with Asian Flush either do not produce enough Aldehyde Dehydrogenase or the Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase they produce is largely inert or inactive, resulting in above normal build up of Acetaldehyde. It is the abnormally high levels of Acetaldehyde that result in the Asian Flush condition and its symptoms.
Asian Flush Symptoms
The most common symptom of Asian Flush is a red face and/or red patches on other parts of the body. It is this primary symptom that gave this condition its name. The redness of the skin may be accompanied by itchiness. Additional Asian Flush symptoms include:
- Rapid pulse.
- Feeling bloated.
- Runny nose.
- More serious hangover than normal.
Prevent Asian Flush Symptoms
Asian Flush symptoms can be reduced by following these tips:
- Before drinking, ingest supplements that can assist the body in the production of Aldehyde Dehydrogenase such as No Red Face Formula or NoGlo.
- Drink alcoholic beverages with lower alcohol content such as beer or wine instead of hard liquor.
- Drink at a slower pace to give the body more time to metabolize the alcohol.
- Drink lots of water when drinking alcohol based beverages.
- Consume certain supplements prior to drinking such as Alpha Lipoic Acid and N-Acetyl Cysteine. (see NoGlo ingredients list).
Asian Flush Esophageal Cancer
Evidence indicates a very strong link between people who suffer with Asian Flush and increased Esophageal cancer risks. The alcohol flushing response to alcohol is a clinically useful indicator of genetic susceptibility to esophageal cancer risk from alcohol. When alcohol is consumed, it is first metabolized into Acetaldehyde, which can cause DNA damage and has other cancer promoting effects. The Acetaldehyde is more toxic and carcinogenic than the alcohol itself. It is recommended that Asian Flush sufferers cease ingestion of alcohol as soon as the flushing response begins. The point at which the flushing response occurs can be extended by using one or more of the Asian Flush symptom preventatives.
Asian Flush and Pepcid AC/Zantac
One myth regarding the curing of Asian Flush is to pop a few Pepcid AC or Zantac (H2 blockers) before drinking. While this can reduce symptoms of Asian Flush to some degree a more effective Asian Flush prevention protocol is to combine the ingestion of an H2 blocker with additional ingredients about one hour prior to consuming alcohol. H2 blockers, by themselves, do nothing to reduce the increased risk of Esophageal cancer associated with Asian Flushing.
Asian Flush Remedies
There are no medical solutions to treat/prevent Asian Flush and its symptoms. Understandably, the medical community places a low priority on developing a medicines that would assist people in the consumption of alcohol. There are the previously mentioned Asian Flush home remedies and Asian Flush prevention methods.
Echeng Asian Flush Community
The Echeng Asian Flush Community is a website, hosted by Eric Cheng, with discussions about the Asian Flush/Flush/Glow/Red Face (turning red when drinking alcohol), including using H2 blockers (e.g. Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac) and other products to combat its effects.