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Alert: Red Face after Drinking Alcohol May Signal Increased Risk of Killer Disease

Do you experience facial flushing after consuming alcohol?[0] Watch out for the risk of a killer disease.[0]

A new study has identified a gene variant that causes facial flushing after alcohol consumption, which could be a sign of increased risk of heart disease.[1] The research, which was led by a team at Stanford University in California, was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.[2]

The gene variant, known as ALDH2*2, is found in around 8 percent of the global population, mainly in East Asians.[3] It impairs the metabolism of alcohol and has been linked to alcohol intolerance as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and dermatological disorders.[3] Carriers of the variant typically experience a flush reaction on their face or other parts of their body after consuming alcohol.[3]

The researchers found that individuals with this variant have impaired vascular function, which can be exacerbated by even modest alcohol consumption. This means that any amount of alcohol is potentially dangerous to those with the variant, particularly if they have other risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.[4]

The authors also discovered that mice carrying the ALDH2*2 variant have impaired vascular dilatation, and when exposed to alcohol, these mice showed enlarged vascular size, increased vascular thickness, and impaired vascular contraction and relaxation.[4] In addition, the gene variant impairs the growth of new blood vessels, which can make it harder to treat heart attacks.[5]

However, the researchers found that a diabetes drug called empagliflozin may reduce these harmful effects in people with ALDH2*2 who drink a lot of alcohol.[6] The drug was found to improve blood vessel function in mice.[7] However, Wu warned that the medication would not have an effect on “directly stimulate ALDH2 activity”, implying that it would not be able to address the flushing response.[7]

The take-home message is clear, according to Wu: “If you’re missing this enzyme, try not to drink.[6] If you drink consistently, you are at much higher risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.[8]

0. “Do you get a red face after drinking alcohol? Watch out for the risk of a killer disease” Times Now, 27 Jan. 2023,

1. “Facial Flushing Variant Linked with Blood Vessel Inflammation” Inside Precision Medicine, 27 Jan. 2023,

2. “SGLT2 inhibitor found to reduce endothelial dysfunction associated with ALDH2 alcohol face flushing variant” Medical Xpress, 26 Jan. 2023,

3. “Cardiac-Related Consequences of Alcohol Flushing Genetic Variant Reduced by Drug” GenomeWeb, 25 Jan. 2023,

4. “Alcohol Flushing Response May Increase Chances of Heart Disease” The Daily Beast, 25 Jan. 2023,

5. “Boozers who get a red face after they drink at an ‘increased risk’ of silent killer…” The US Sun, 26 Jan. 2023,

6. “Why gene variant impairing alcohol breakdown raises heart disease risk” New Scientist, 25 Jan. 2023,

7. “Put Down the Beer: Alcohol Flush May Be a Deadly Sign” msnNOW, 25 Jan. 2023,

8. “Get a Red Face After Drinking? You May Have a Higher Risk of Heart Disease” Technology Networks, 25 Jan. 2023,

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