The Grapevine

Why Do We Have Different Tolerance Levels For Alcohol?

A friend who drinks occasionally can take more beers than you can even if you spend most of your Fridays out and drunk. Ever wondered why? That can be due to alcohol tolerance.

There are several factors giving someone the capability to handle large amounts of alcohol before feeling its effects. Gender, body weight and genes affect one’s tolerance, HuffPost reported Thursday.

Men are naturally able to drink more than women, while larger people can finish more buckets better than smaller people.

Meanwhile, Asians have higher chances of feeling a hangover. This is due to the lack of an enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase that plays an important role in how the body processes alcohol.

The enzyme deficiency can cause flushing of the skin and increased symptoms of hangover, according to Brad Uren, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan health system.

But the effects of gender, race and body size on alcohol tolerance can be altered. Asians, women and smaller people can also enjoy more beers and glasses of wine by training their brain. 

The brain and body can adapt after heavy drinking. This will allow you to increase your alcohol consumption eventually and become less intoxicated. 

However, developing tolerance may not always be a fun thing. It could lead to some problems.  

First, people with high alcohol tolerance can be at risk of accidents, particularly on the road. Despite not showing signs of alcohol effects, those bottles of beer could still affect how they think and react. 

“It is not safe to assume that these individuals are better able to perform tasks that require concentration and reaction time, such as driving a vehicle, as if they had not consumed alcohol,” Uren said. 

Tolerance may also lead to excessive drinking or alcoholism. Health experts warned that high and frequent consumption of alcohol could trigger a number of diseases, such as liver problems, brain disease, neuropathy, pancreatitis and stomach cancer.

“Being able to drink someone under the table is so commonly associated with strength, and there’s such a stigma to being a lightweight,” Peter Martin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said. But he noted it is better to be “lightweights” for safety and better health.  

Beer A woman opens a beer at a bar during a power outage in Caracas on March 9, 2019. It is not always bad take a bottle or a glass with a number of studies showing that light to moderate drinkers tend to enjoy not just the good times with friends but also the health benefits of drinking alcohol. Cristian Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images