After news broke of Yulon Group Chairman Kenneth Yen's death on Monday due to esophageal cancer, doctors are warning Taiwanese that those with the so-called "Asian Flush," have a much higher risk for the disease.
In particular, those who experience the "Asian Flush," a flushed reaction many people in East Asia have to alcohol, may be much more prone to cancer when their esophagus is frequently inflamed.
The enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) plays a crucial role in human metabolism of alcohol, but people who easily become flushed even after only having one drink, may have the genetic mutation of this enzyme responsible for what is often referred to as the Asian flush or "Asian glow" response.
When I see people drinking and turning red with the first swig of beer, I think immediately, "Asian flush" or "Asian glow" or "alcohol flush reaction," which happens because of a genetic condition where the individual breaks down alcohol very rapidly, and shows effects like the skin flushing.
The origins of Asian flush are still not clearly understood, but one theory is that the condition gives people some protection from dreaded amoebic infections.