Alcohol Metabolism Deficiency (ALMD) is a condition prevalent in individuals of Asian decent; it affects approximately 30-40% of East Asians and roughly 8% of the world's population (>500 million people) (PLoS Med., Brooks, et al). ALMD is caused by a single gene mutation in the ALDH2 enzyme that impairs its ability to break down the toxin acetaldehyde when metabolizing alcohol.
Acetaldehyde exposure from alcohol consumption is associated with serious long-term health consequences in patients with ALMD in addition to the more commonly know short-term effects such as facial flushing, nausea, and increased heart rate. Extended exposure to toxic acetaldehyde is meaningfully higher in patients with ALMD than in patients lacking the genetic mutation. As a result, patients suffering from ALMD have increased long-term health consequences and a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, liver and heart disease, and other disorders. In Asia, where >30% of the population lacks normally functioning ALDH2, the risk of oral and esophageal cancers is meaningfully higher than observed in predominantly western geographies (PLoS Med., Brooks, et al).