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

New loonie reason to celebrate and educate: central Alberta LGBTQ community

The new LGBTQ2 loonie is a conversation starter and a reason to… Continue reading

C & E Trail property owner wants to use land as RV storage yard

Red Deer city council gives initial approval

Indigenous cultural centre needed in Red Deer

Urban Aboriginal Voices Society hosts annual community gathering

Red Deer youth recognized for his compassion

Blackfalds man dies after vehicle collision

Shots fired at O’Chiese residence early Tuesday

Two occupants were not injured in 6:50 a.m. shooting

MISSING: Joshua Arthur Sanford

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Oh, yes! Nurse, Raptors look to finish series with Magic

DENVER — In response to an early call, Toronto coach Nick Nurse… Continue reading

Delay of game calls, goalie interference top worst rules for NHLers: survey

The pace and excitement of 3-on-3 overtime isn’t just a thrill for… Continue reading

Avengers get epic send-off at ‘Endgame’ world premiere

LOS ANGELES — There were more than a few sniffles from the… Continue reading

Writers’ Trust launches program pairing rising writers with established mentors

TORONTO — The Writers’ Trust has launched a program that gives five… Continue reading

Family: A potpourri of Easter egg hunts, music and politics

The election is a thing of the past. Albertans have spoken. They… Continue reading

Most Read