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Effect of Alcohol on your body?

I wanted to do a poll to see how people from different backgrounds react to alcohol. From what I am reading (and experiencing), people from western backgrounds tend to do fine, while people from Asia, Middle East and other places maybe don't do so well. American Indians called it "fire water" and Islamic countries forbid it. I bet there is a good reason behind this...

Sat. Dec 30, 10:44am

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Not quite sure what you mean by "tend to do fine," but I live in Ireland where I can assure you that on any given day or night many thousands are not anywhere near "fine." Alcohol related crime, violence, and injury are rampant at least among my age group. I've lived here for three months and have literally dragged people away from their cars when they were completely "locked". Not fun, especially when you realise it's made you unpopular.

Having also lived in Germany, it's a very different story. Social drinking is more acceptable, and society in general is more conducive to responsible habits; people are raised seeing mum and dad have a bit at the dinner table, pubs/discos close at 6 or 7 in the morning meaning people don't have to "chug" that last one at one or two, and cheap, easy night buses run frequently to many destinations. Do you see alcoholics? Yes indeed, but society at large doesn't have the same overall problems I've seen elsewhere.

I was raised in a teetotalling Southern Baptist household that didn't even have Nyquil or Listerine. No one in my immediate family drinks, though there is alcoholiam in the extended. I am an ocassional social drinker who's always practiced moderation. At 26, I've had one hangover in my life, so the theory that deprivation breeds excess kind of goes out the window at least where I'm concerned. I learned to drink and about drinking in western Europe where I lived for four years.

Many of religions can be interpreted as forbidding alcohol, not just Islam. I was raised with people swearing up and down that the wine referred to in the Bible didn't contain alcohol/wasn't the product of fermentation.

I'm not sure whether you meant our actual physiologial reactions to alcohol, or our own ethics regarding it, but that was my two cents.


Saturday, December 30, 2006, 11:09 AM

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I had meant in more of a physical sense, but this was very interesting! Thank you.

Saturday, December 30, 2006, 2:53 PM

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I am of Eastern European descent, and Jewish. I cannot handle alcohol at all!! If I have more than one drink, or maybe two, a few hours later, I will be nauseous (generally get the dry heaves) and shivering uncontrollably, though not necessarily cold. It's really unpleasant! So, I pretty much never have more than one drink. I don't know anyone else who has this same problem, or what causes it, even other people from similar backgrounds. My parents may have a couple drinks in a night, but they drank when they were younger, and never had a similar problem. Could it be an allergy? My doctor's only answer is, "some people just can't handle alcohol."

Sunday, December 31, 2006, 4:44 PM

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It really sounds like you might have an allergy to the alcohol. It does happen. I know a man in his 30s who is allergic and some of what he described was the same as you.

Let's face it, Alcohol is a poison. Now there are good reasons for ingesting small amounts of poisons sometimes. There are even health benefits sometimes. I am NOT a teetotaler, by any means, and budget my alcohol calories into my daily total, as Hussy can tell you.

But poison it is, and some people can tolerate more of this drug, just like any drug. I suspect it is mostly genetic, but with the world becoming more and more global, including our genetic, those distinctions will become more muddled and more individualized.

It is not just societal example, either. In General, the europeans of Ireland, and the europeans of Germany, are NOT the same people genetically. Their behaviours and reactions to the same stimulae can be polar opposites. How they solve problems (or do not solve them) or even what they consider problems are not close at all.

I find it fascinating to trace how these different waves of peoples moved across Europe, how they interacted with the indigenous populations, and especially what happened to them as they came to the New World. There is a reason that the Scots and Irish who moved into frontier areas were so willing to crush the native out of their way. Brutality was all they had known fromcenturies before. Look what happened as the romans, anglo-saxons, norman french (who were themselves part of a Germanic tribe from way back, Franks) spread across the British Isles and ground them under. They were not going back to that!

European history is full of this, not just this little piece, and they did not change much when they came here to the New World. Gaels settled mostly in the South, Other Europeans settled mostly in the North, and we had our Civil War. And the Gaels lost again.

Well, I got way off topic. I do believe that Alcohol tolerance is mostly genetic, and thus to a lesser degree, racial, but It is a poisonous substance, and we tolerate all drugs differently, not just alcohol
Maria Rose

Monday, January 01, 2007, 7:13 AM

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Fascinating topic, and definitely topical on January 1st! I had a grandfather who could not drink, it made him sick. And he was of French descent!!!! Of course, he was french canadian, and swore there was some native american blood, but alcohol made him quite ill. I find that the older I get (and I'm 39) the less I can tolerate alcohol. It doesn't make me ill, so to speak, but my I get a horrendous hangover, a headache that won't quit, if I have more than two glasses of wine. And I absolutely can't sleep if I drink. This makes me a cheap date when my hubby and I go on cruises...and a designated driver more often than not.

As for native americans not being able to tolerate drink as well, I can't help but wonder if that is simply because they hadn't had 200 years of drinking in their backgrounds. Maybe it takes generations for people to evolve to have the ability to digest/accept the "poison"? Just as the chicken pox could wipe out entire communities of native people, who had no previous exposure? Okay, again, way OT but fascinating. I'm sure someone somewhere has studied this!

Monday, January 01, 2007, 8:50 AM

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Okay, here's one bit of research on the topic:
Biological Factors. People vary in their vulnerability to the effects of alcohol. Some of these differences result from genetically determined variations in the body's ability to break down (i.e., metabolize) and eliminate alcohol (15). For example, after drinking, many Asian subpopulations experience flushing of the skin, nausea, headache, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Those symptoms result primarily from inactivity of aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2), an enzyme involved in a key step of alcohol metabolism (16). A study of Asian males born in Canada and the United States found that those who had inherited the gene for the less active form of this enzyme drank two-thirds less alcohol, had one-third the rate of binge drinking (i.e., consumption of more than 5 drinks per day), and were three times more likely to be abstainers than a group of Asian males who possessed the more active enzyme (17). However, some people develop alcohol problems despite possessing the inactive form of ALDH2, demonstrating the importance of additional factors in the development of drinking patterns and consequences (17).

Among some African Americans, genetically determined variability in another alcohol-metabolizing enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase-2, appears to affect the degree of vulnerability to alcoholic cirrhosis and alcohol-related fetal damage (15).

Also, it appears that the "firewater" theory about native americans is being disproved right and left.

Monday, January 01, 2007, 8:56 AM

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Aren't Native Americans an Asian subpopulation? I would expect them to have the inactive ALDH2. It does not take very much alcohol to make someone with this enzyme falling-down drunk.

The results of this difference can be a little funny to a Caucasian American. I spent some time working in Japan and my Japanese colleagues took me out drinking, as is traditional there. All day at work they were boasting about how much they could drink. I actually began to secretly wonder whether I would disgrace myself, even though I'm taller and have a higher body weight. In the event, after one drink many of them were pink, giggling, and practically falling under the table. I had to ham it up a little to not embarrass them by my inability to get so drunk on so little....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007, 8:20 PM

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I am a caucasian american mixed up with frnch, america indian, irish, german, swedish. england....and i cannot tolerate wine. I cant sleep and it makes me speed. I can tolerate other alcohols fine tho.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007, 10:49 PM

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I'm Indian and as I get older I find that it my body rejects it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007, 8:54 AM

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Interestingly enough... i found this website while on a quest looking for differences in the effect of alcohol, whether it be age, gender, race, or genes/lineage. I've tracked down my roots to Scottland, Ireland, Italy and England, and I've often wondered how I handle Alcohol. I never was much of a drinker, and i don't really like the idea of being impaired or not in control. I thought it would be an interesting experiment at the least. My sister and I have complete reactions. She came home one night drunk and she told me she only had four beers(these beers were shared between her and one of her friends). I drink four beers and barely feel anything. I get a little bit of the feeling that my eyes are floating, but that's it!!! I don't think she remembered much of what happened when she was drunk. It is really interesting how much of a variety of reactions we have to alcohol.


Sunday, September 14, 2008, 11:49 PM

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but a cold margarita on a hot day is delightful!!

Monday, September 15, 2008, 9:37 AM

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It is called "Alcohol Flush Reaction"

Google is your friend:


Monday, September 15, 2008, 9:50 AM

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