There are people whose face turns red when they drink alcohol and those who do not become so red. But, it seems that this might not be proportional to the degree of drunkenness, as there are people who get drunk without turning so red. Today, I will show you why the face turns red when you drink.
Why does our face turn red?
The cause is a buildup of the substance called acetaldehyde, when alcohol is metabolized. Those whose lack activity (working condition) of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH 2), which is one of the enzymes that decompose acetaldehyde, have low acetaldehyde decomposing ability, so their blood concentrations rise causing their face turning red.
The presence or absence of enzyme activity of ALDH2 is related to genetic factors, which the 56% of Mongoloid belonging to the Japanese people corresponds to this genotype with high activity of the enzyme. On the other hand, it is said that 40% of Mongoloid corresponds to the type of genes that have only 1/16 of this enzyme activity compared to those with higher activity. In addition, there are some genotypes in which this enzyme activity is inactivated, corresponding to the 4% of Mongoloid. In other words, the non‐drinker. And according to the same survey, the black or white people have a 100% highly active genotype, so it can be said that in the world, Japanese people are among one of the nationalities who are weak at handling alcohol consumption.
There is a way to check your genotype in relation to the enzyme activity of ALDH2 on your own.
That is an alcohol "patch test" on your skin. Take few drops of disinfectant alcohol into the gauze of a bandage, and apply it on the inner part of the upper arm. Take it off the bandage after 7 minutes and if there is no immediate change in the skin color on your arm (within 5 seconds), then you are a NN type (the enzyme is highly active). If it turns red right after taking off the bandage, but return to the normal color within 10 minutes, then it is ND type (weak enzyme activity),and if you stay red even after 10 minutes, you are a DD type (inactivated enzyme).
Demerits of turning face red and safety measure
According to the e-Health Net "Drinking guidelines" issued by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, it seems that people who experience a flushing reaction after drinking are more likely to be susceptible certain types of cancer and organ damage. Also, a study by Dr. John Seong Kim, Department of Family Medicine at Chungnam University School, shows that people who have flushing reaction after drinking alcohol, have an increased risk of hypertension as blood pressure is more affected than those without this reaction. When people with low or no activity of the degrading enzymes drink alcohol, it increases the level of the acetaldehyde, but this acetaldehyde is highly toxic to organs.
Those who react badly to drinking alcohol should watch the amount they consume and enjoy the atmosphere of the moment. As mentioned above, it is not good for your body to drink alcohol and make your face turning red. Also even if you do not turn red, there is a possibility that you are drinking too fast that the acetaldehyde decomposition has not caught up with you. Be careful as you may be over drinking.
As there is a Japanese proverb saying "it is ok to drink but don't get swallowed up," keep this word in mind when you drink alcohol.