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Thursday
Aug042011

Alcohol Tolerance: Experts Weigh in on Genetic, Physical Factors

Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Think you know your level of alcohol tolerance? Think you know how many drinks it'll take you to get tipsy? Think again.

Most alcohol recommendations are based on a 155-lb. adult male. Usually, drinking three standard-sized beverages – like a 12 oz. beer – consumed in under an hour can get the average man drunk.

But some experts say that many people don't know their level of tolerance. In fact, there are genetic, biological and physical factors that can make you drunk faster.

A few characteristics that contribute to your alcohol tolerance include weight, ethnic background, food consumption, and gender.

"We, in general, metabolize one drink an hour," said Dr. Corey Slovis, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

But those who weigh less are more affected by the same amount of alcohol. A larger body mass index and a higher volume of plasma in the body contribute to the ability of larger people to consume more, many experts said.

Ethnic background, by contrast, is an uncontrollable characteristic that factors into whether a person can drink more and hurt less.

"The enzyme that metabolizes alcohol may be less abundant in some groups," said Slovis.

Some ethnicities, including Asians, have a genetic mutation in the enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which brings on rosy cheeks and a rapid heartbeat, even with a small amount of alcohol. Native Americans also metabolize alcohol much slower than many other ethnicities, said Slovis.

Is there anything that can at least delay intoxication? Eat more!

"The more carbs and the more fat you consume, the more you'll delay intoxication," said Slovis.

But that's no excuse to drink more, said Slovis. In fact, the delayed intoxication can be confusing. Some might drink more than usual, and the combination of food and drink can make you more likely to get sick.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio