Alcoholism: A Physical Disease
"Discoveries about the way alcohol is processed in the body have provided further evidence of a genetic link
For example, Harvard scientist (L. Tunglai et al 1977) recently came upon a previously unknown liver enzyme responsible for metabolizing alcohol.
This enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase II (II ADH), can process or oxidize alcohol up to 40 percent more efficiently than the liver enzymes most of us have.
People who have this enzyme and most of us do not- have an inborn ability to drink very large amounts of alcohol without becoming intoxicated. These are the folks who can drink many of us under the table without getting the least bit tipsy and/or feeling hung over the next morning.
Researchers have also discovered that the absence of a crucial liver enzyme accounts for the fact that very few Orientals become alcoholics.
In fact, many Asians get sick whenever they drink. Their pulses race and they feel dizzy and nauseated.
The explanation for this peculiar reaction is the fact that many Orientals have only one liver enzyme that processes alcohol, rather than the two found in people from other parts of the world.
About half the Oriental population is missing this second crucial enzyme.
Alcoholics and nonalcoholics process alcohol differently. When alcohol reaches the liver, it is changed into acetaldehyde, a harmful byproduct of alcohol metabolism that can damage liver cells.
Normally the liver rapidly transforms the harmful acetaldehyde into a neutral substance called acetic acid or acetate.
The acetic acid is then converted into carbon dioxide and water.
We expel the carbon dioxide through respiration and the water through urination.
Until recently, it was believed that the liver always handles alcohol in the same way. But new research shows that a different scenario occurs among certain alcoholics and children of alcoholics with no" - - - -