Flushed face may signal cancer

Turn a bit red when you drink a mere half bottle of beer? If you’re of East Asian descent, consider that a warning: You may be at higher risk of alcohol-caused esophageal cancer.

WASHINGTON — Turn a bit red when you drink a mere half bottle of beer? If you’re of East Asian descent, consider that a warning: You may be at higher risk of alcohol-caused esophageal cancer.

Researchers reported the link Monday in hopes of increasing awareness that the inherited flushing trait — found in about a third of people from Japan, China and Korea — offers valuable health information.

Alcohol is a known risk factor for a variety of cancers, including esophageal, and heavier drinking is considered riskier than light drinking.

Lots of people turn slightly red if they imbibe too much. At issue here is facial flushing from a small amount of alcohol. It’s due to a deficiency in an enzyme that helps metabolize alcohol, called ALDH2.

People with a severe deficiency of the enzyme usually don’t drink because it makes them feel too bad; in addition to flushing they feel nausea and a rapid heartbeat.

But people with a partial deficiency may put up with the flushing. A series of studies by Dr. Akira Yokoyama of Japan’s Kurihama Alcohol Center found that those people are six to 10 times more likely to develop esophageal cancer than people who drink a comparable amount but aren’t enzyme-deficient.

Without enough of that enzyme, alcohol breaks down into a DNA-damaging chemical similar to formaldehyde but it doesn’t go the next step and turn into yet another chemical that’s non-toxic. Don’t drink, and the flushers aren’t at increased risk.

Esophageal cancer is fairly rare, but it’s also hard to treat. Worldwide, anywhere from 12 per cent to a third of people who develop it survive five years.

Just Posted

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Weaker pump prices help inflation cool to 1.7%, the lowest reading in a year

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed considerably last month to… Continue reading

Salt Lake City bids for 2nd Olympics in changed climate

SALT LAKE CITY — When Salt Lake City pursued the Winter Olympics… Continue reading

‘Here is my home:’ Refugee whose fingers froze off finds hope in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Razak Iyal still wakes up in the middle of the… Continue reading

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says he’s confident he’ll win re-election next fall… Continue reading

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Maple Leafs among NHL teams facing cap crunches next year

There are questions Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock won’t touch with a… Continue reading

MacMaster holiday concert billed as dementia-inclusive

TORONTO — A holiday concert by fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy… Continue reading

A journey through 2018’s top pop culture moments

And the top pop culture moments of 2018 are … Wait. WAS… Continue reading

Elon Musk unveils underground tunnel, offers rides to VIPs

LOS ANGELES — Elon Musk unveiled his underground transportation tunnel on Tuesday,… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Most Read