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Does your face turn red when you drink?

November 22, 2013 2 min read

People who turn red-faced when they drink are less able to tolerate alcohol and need to watch their blood pressure, new research has shown. A study found the risk of alcohol-related hypertension, or high blood pressure, was greater in people who develop a warm glow after drinking. The risk was significantly increased when ‘flushers’ consumed more than four drinks per week.
People who turn red-faced when they drink (right) are less able to tolerate alcohol and need to watch their blood pressure, new research has shown. If they drink more than four alcoholic drinks a week they are at increased risk of high blood pressure
The rosy-cheeked drinker has been a figure of fun and one of the cartoonist's favourite characters for quite some time. But the new research from Korea suggests that flushing red after a drink is no joke.

High blood pressure, including alcohol-related high blood pressure, is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes because it puts strain on the blood vessels.

  ‘Facial flushing after drinking is always considered as a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol, unless a patient is taking special medicine,’ said lead researcher Dr Jong Sung Kim, from Chungnam National University School of Medicine. ‘It usually occurs in a person who cannot genetically break down acetaldehyde, [a toxic product of alcohol produced when alcohol is broken down in the liver]. Results indicate that hypertension associated with drinking has a lower threshold value and higher risk in flushers than in non-flushers.
Women and East Asians are most likely to turn red faced after drinking but the problem can also affect Westerners and men, such as Jeremy Clarkson (pictured)

Women and East Asians are most likely to turn red faced after drinking but the problem can also affect Westerners and men, such as Jeremy Clarkson (pictured)

‘After adjusting for age, body mass index, exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than four drinks per week. In contrast, in non-flushers, the risk increased with consuming more than eight drinks per week. The team, whose findings appear online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, examined the medical records of 1,763 Korean men, including 288 non-drinkers, 527 flushing drinkers, and 948 non-flushing drinkers.

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