Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders


No nitroglycerin please, I’m an asian non-drinker

Posted on February 06, 2006 by daviding

The rare people who have ever gone out drinking with me know that I turn red with as little as one ounce of wine. My childhood friend, Paul Boughen (who is now a doctor) said that it was because I was missing the aldehyde hydrogenase enzyme, so that I didn’t digest alcohol. The alcohol would just go directly into my bloodstream. On the other hand, after 3 hours, I would be completely sober, as the alcohol would be flushed from my system.

On the other hand, research published in the Journal of Clinic Investigations suggests that nitroglycerin may do nothing for me if I run into heart issues.The more intelligible Globe and Mail, today, says that nitroglycerin probably won’t work for me.

Few heart drugs in the world have been prescribed as often as nitroglycerin has. Canadians filled 2.1 million prescriptions last year. Yet new research from China offers startling numbers to bolster [Toronto cardiologist] Dr. Liu’s observations: 30 to 50 per cent of East Asians might carry a genetic trait that blocks the body’s ability to process the drug, rendering it useless.

The mechanism is so striking that scientists at Fudan University in Shanghai suggest doctors reconsider prescribing nitroglycerin to East Asians.

The newspaper article continues, suggesting where my response to drinking comes to play.

Tests to detect the genetic trait are not widely available. But [Fudan University] Dr. Li Jin noted there might be an indirect way to identify carriers: “This particular mutation also results in blushing after drinking alcohol.”

The research report (not the newspaper) says that 30% to 50% of Asians potentially have this issue.

This article appears to be part of trend turning away from “universal” cures for humans. It should make sense that medicine should have variations related to ethnicity, if not genetics.

Now if we can get explanations about why non-drowsy allergy medications put me right to sleep, and aspirin gives me insomnia.

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