Asian Flush and Its Connection to Cancer


If your face turns red when you drink, you may be experiencing Asian flush. Researchers are now saying that people with Asian flush are at risk for more than embarrassment. Studies show that people with this condition (also known as alcohol flush reaction, Asian glow or Asian blush) may be at higher risk for throat cancer.

Asian flush, also known as alcohol flush syndrome is common in over thirty percent of Eastern Asians, particularly Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. Typical responses are a red, flushed face, swollen or itchy skin, and sometimes nausea and dizziness. Lack of an enzyme called ALDH2 which is responsible for breaking down acetaldehyde, the byproduct of the metabolism of alcohol is the cause of these reactions. There are varying degrees of the condition, leaving some simply embarrassed at their physical appearance, and others physically unable to consume alcohol. Because the ALDH2 enzyme is unable to break the byproduct called acetaldehyde, sufferers of Asian flush experience the unseen symptoms of the build-up of this toxin.

Furthermore, it is possible to have either one or two copies of the gene responsible for this deficiency of ALDH2. Those with two copies are likely to have more adverse reactions and therefore drink far less than someone with one copy. Those with one copy may develop an acetaldehyde dependency, and put themselves and a much higher risk for throat cancer.

This is the same type of cancer that is caused by smoking – called the squamous cell esophageal cancer. It can be rented but does not have a high survival rate. Someone who is lacking the ALDH2 enzyme can be up to ten time more likely to develop throat cancer than someone who has it. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of this cancer tremendously.

In recent years the young community of Asian flush sufferers have discovered that antihistamines and other OTC drugs can be used to prevent the flushing effects, but this only masks the reaction, and does not decrease the risk of cancer. If you are considering this method to cure your Asian flush, it is important to consult your doctor first, because some OTC drugs can have harmful side-effects when mixed with alcohol. The amount and frequency of this method should also be treated with caution.

The No Red Face Formula is a product that appeared on the market in 2006. It claims that with an e-book, it can teach you techniques to cure your Asian flush. However, the techniques in the book are copymitted material and very little information is available about what these techniques are and whether they can actually help in the breaking down of acetaldehyde or if they simply mask the flushing effects. It is also unclear whether this product has any effect on the aforementioned potential risk of cancer.