The gene variant that causes the 'alcohol flush' reaction also increases the risk of heart disease, scientists at Stanford University, California, have discovered.
The flushing reaction that occurs after drinking alcohol is due to an inherited deficiency with an enzyme called aldehyde deydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), resulting in the inability to metabolise alcohol.
The genetic variant, ALDH2*2, is present in around eight percent of the world's population.
Publishing their results in Science Translational Medicine, the scientists have discovered that this genetic variant also increases the risk of heart disease.
By analysing data from biobanks in Japan and UK, they found that the risk of heart disease is four times higher in regular drinkers with ALDH2*2.
Visit New Scientist to read more on their findings.