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Vox Observatory S1 • E11

Asian flush, explained

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Published on Aug 12, 2015

It's not because they're drunker than you are.


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Asian flush, also widely known as Asian glow, is when Chinese, Japanese and Korean people turn red after drinking alcohol. What causes Asian glow? Genetics, basically. Around 36% of Northeast Asians are deficient in one of the enzymes that metabolizes alcohol, due to a gene mutation called ALDH2*2. This leads to a buildup of a toxic substance called acetaldehyde, which causes Asian flush and can also cause cancer, especially esophageal cancer.

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