Science Questions

Why are some people so tolerant to alcohol?

Sat, 23rd Sep 2006

Part of the show Catalysts for Cleaner Environments and Future Energy

Question

Joshua in Atlanta asked:

Why is it that some people are so tolerant to alcohol whereas other people just need to get a whiff to tip them over the edge?

Answer

That's to do with an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase which contains a zinc atom. Different amounts of this enzyme would be expressed in people who have different genetic make up. This is one part of the answer. If you are a regular user you boost the enzymes in the liver to increase the numbers so you break these things down a little bit more.

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