When I’m out drinking with my Japanese pals, I’ve noticed that their faces often go a bright shade of crimson when they get drunk. Apparently there’s a scientific reason for this chameleonic reaction. If it happens to you, you’re missing an enzyme that breaks down booze.
About fifty percent of people in Eastern Asia get this “alcohol flush reaction.” Before their first sip of sake they might be as pale as an anaemic geisha, but after five minutes of drinking they’ll resemble a sunburned Irish bricklayer with high blood-pressure, stepping out of a sauna on a hot August afternoon.
This doesn’t stop the average Japanese businessman from getting smashed with his colleagues. They just ignore their Elmo-esque visages, and soldier valiantly on.
It’s not just Asian people that get this. I remember one of my Aunties at every family gathering getting rosy cheeks after a couple of mouthfuls of wine.
For you science fans out there, apparently this pesky missing enzyme is called “aldehyde dehydrogenase 2”, and it breaks down acetaldehyde, which gets made when your body metabolizes booze. Acetaldehyde is a toxin, so when your body can’t break it down, it builds up and makes your face as scarlet as a slapped arse. You can read a proper scientific explanation on Wikipedia.
On the plus side, this inactive enzyme means you can get shit-faced very quickly and cheaply.
I wish I had this problem. I’d save a fortune in beer money!