Bottoms up: Why do some Vietnamese go red after drinking?

By VnExpress   April 14, 2017 | 09:00 am PT
Just one beer and your Vietnamese drinking pal turns red. No, they're not that angry.

There’re many things Asian people can do so well: using chopsticks, enduring long karaoke sessions, squatting as if the world is just one big gym.

But drinking is not one of them. For many Asian people, it appears to be their weakness.

Data shows that Japanese and Vietnamese people are two of the biggest drinkers in the world, but many people in these countries are actually very sensitive to alcohol. They will blush like crazy after a beer or two.

The scientific term is Alcohol Flush Syndrome or Alcohol Flush Reaction, but at the drinking table the right names should be "Asian glow" or "tomato face".

Various studies on the syndrome suggest that its main victims are unproportionately people of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese descent. Apparently, half of the Pacific Rim Asian population has this.

According to an article published by Yale Scientific, the syndrome is usually associated with flushing of the neck and face after just one drink, but it also causes heightened heart rate, headache and nausea.

Biologically, it’s a red-hot sign that the body is saying no to alcohol.

Researchers have found that people with the syndrome have an atypical alcohol dehydrogenase known as ADH2*2 that leads to unusually rapid conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde, which results in a flushing body. When the “glow” starts, drinkers should refrain from consuming more alcohol to avoid further intoxication.

Long story short, next time out at one of your year-end parties, don’t make fun of your Asian friends because they can’t finish their beer.

In this unfair world, some of us just have to stick with iced tea.

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