The body’s way of trying to process alcohol is a pretty marvelous thing. Alcohol gets passed through your bloodstream, affecting just about every organ in your body in one way or another.
Most of the alcohol gets absorbed through the small intestine, where it then moves along to your good ol’ liver. Ever wonder why you can smell a heavy drinker from a mile away? It is because the lungs are one of the last places the alcohol stops before being exhaled, a little bit at a time, with each breath.
And then there are the most visible signs. Stumbling around if you’ve had too much is one thing, but some people also have what is called Alcohol Flush Reaction, which results in blushing.
If that is you, congrats – You are a mutant.
There are over 500 million of you in the world. The cause of your mutation is your inability to produce aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (or ALDH2, as anyone who’s not a scientist, would probably rather call it).
This is not a cool sort of mutation. You are not going to be jumping the height of buildings or anything.
In fact, you are more likely to be found leaning over a toilet after a night of heavy drinking.
The inability to produce ALDH2 means the liver cannot break down alcohol as efficiently, leading to a buildup of acetaldehyde that causes flushed complexion, increased heart rate, headaches and your old friend nausea.