Taiwanese Americans Cannot Hold Their Liquor

When I saw this article on 47% of Taiwan’s poulation lacks alcohol-metabolizing gene posted on Facebook and read the details, I laughed, since it is pretty common that Asians often do get the “Asian flush”.  ALDH2 is an alcohol-metabolizing gene and if you lack that gene, you don’t metabolize alcohol so easily:

bar_full_of_liquor_bottles“The percentage of people with ALDH2 Deficiency, also known as the “alcohol flush reaction,” in Taiwan is the highest in the world at 47%, said Che-Hong Chen, senior research scientist with Stanford University’s Mochly-Rosen Lab, during a seminar the university jointly held with Taipei Medical University on Tuesday.

The deficiency is common in ethnic Han Chinese people living in coastal areas. The percentage is 35% in China, 30% in Japan and 20% in South Korea. Taiwan’s indigenous people groups do not lack the gene.”

I always thought that Koreans had a stereotype of being the biggest drinkers in Asia, but now I can understand why – they have the highest percentage of people who can hold their liquor.

There’s a downside to lacking that gene if you drink – if you drink on a regular basis, you increase risks of mouth, throat and esophageal cancers by 50-fold over people with the gene!

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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