Explaining the Asian Glow while drinking - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Explaining the Asian Glow while drinking

Lois Lois
Doctor George Macris Doctor George Macris

It's commonly known as the Asian Glow, Flush, or Blush.  The condition is a facial redness brought on by the consumption of alcohol.

While many people know about it, there are many common misperceptions regarding the condition.

We spoke to Dr. George Macris of the John A. Burns School of Medicine to set the record straight.

"30-50% of Asians get it. Researchers have actually identified to descendants of the Han Chinese" he said.

As for what causes it, Dr. Macris added "Asians have a defective enzyme.  Just to make it simple--they accumulate a kind of acid in their blood, a degradation product of alcohol.  This causes the blood vessels to dilate".

Dr. Macris also addressed another popular notion, that products like Zantac and Pepcid can mitigate the effects of alcohol and bring down the redness.

"There's truth to that.  Studies have shown that the Asian flush is histamine based.  What Zantac or Pepcid is, is really a histamine type blocker".

There are some long term health risks associated with the condition as well.

"The theory is that because of this byproduct that backs up because of this defective enzyme, it's a proposed chemical mechanism for esophageal cancer, which is higher in Asians that have this flush" he noted.

Doctor Macris also said that some people who exhibit these symptoms are actually allergic to alcohol.  For them, or anyone else who suffers from ‘the glow', the best defense is to simply not drink.


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