Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

In 2017 we celebrate five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Red Alert
25 August 2013

Red Alert

This man’s face has flushed red after drinking alcohol. A harmless enough side-effect, one might think, but it’s actually a tell-tale sign of a genetic abnormality – a sign that might save his life. Up to 36% of people from East Asia experience ‘alcohol flushing’ due to a genetic mutation affecting an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2). ALDH2 is required to fully break down (metabolise) alcohol – having insufficient ALDH2 leaves the reaction incomplete, turning the alcohol to acetaldehyde, a harmful carcinogen. Alcohol drinkers deficient in ALDH2 have a vastly increased risk of developing throat cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma. For the estimated 8% of the world’s population who are ALDH2-deficient, facial flushing is a clear sign to stay off the booze, and may save thousands of lives.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More