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  (Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Forget carbonation, oxygenation could make your liquid sin a little less harmful

There are numerous dangers of being under the influence of alcohol -- from damage to your body, to loss of coordination, and inhibitions (which each can lead to countless dangers) -- nonetheless, the sensation of inebriation is undeniably pleasant for most.  So what if you could have your liquid sin in a safer form?  

That's a goal that Korean doctors Kwang-il Kwon and Hye Gwang Jeong researching at the Chungnam National University in South Korea feel they have achieved.  Unlike other research groups that have focused on creating "alcohol substitutes" -- typically liquid pharmaceuticals – the researchers examined oxygenated alcohol, a popular form of alcohol in Korea. Oxygenated alcohol has the same bubbly appearance as carbonated alcohols like American beers, but instead of carbon dioxide, the main gas is diatomic oxygen.

To test the health benefits of oxygenation, the researchers gave subjects 19.5 percent alcohol uncarbonated drinks and 19.5 percent alcohol oxygenated drinks at doses of 240 ml and 360 ml (about as much alcohol as would be in 2.5 and 4 80-proof shots, respectively).  

Intriguingly, the patients indulging in the oxygenated beverages sobered up 20 to 30 minutes faster.  The more oxygen, the faster the return to sobriety; patients drinking 360 ml of 20 ppm oxygen spirits returned to sobriety 23.3 minutes faster than those drinking non-oxygenated spirits, and when the oxygen levels were bumped to 25 ppm, the participants sobered 27 minutes faster.

The study also found that those drinking the oxygenated liquors had a lower incidence of hangovers than those consuming standard alcohol.  Those who did experience hangovers found them to be less severe.

The results indicate that oxygenation minimizes some of alcohol's negative effects on the body.  Sobriety is determined by how fast the body can break down alcohol, and the quicker return to sobriety could indicate that oxygenated alcohol is processed faster, leading to less stress on the liver and other organs.  Likewise, less hangovers could indicate less changes to brain blood flow and a reduced risk of brain damage.  

The reason behind the faster breakdown of alcohol appears to be that hepatic enzymes require oxygen to function.  When the oxygenated alcohol is pumped to the liver, some of the oxygen sticks with the ethanol, allowing the liver enzymes to operate more efficiently.

Describes Dr. Kwon, "The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage reduces plasma alcohol concentrations faster than a normal dissolved-oxygen alcohol beverage does. This could provide both clinical and real-life significance. The oxygen-enriched alcohol beverage would allow individuals to become sober faster, and reduce the side effects of acetaldehyde without a significant difference in alcohol's effects. Furthermore, the reduced time to a lower BAC may reduce alcohol-related accidents. It seems that these drinks can maintain a high dissolved-oxygen concentration for about 10 to 20 days before the stopper is removed, and for 70 minutes after removing the stopper, respectively, at room temperature."

Among the major manufacturers of oxygenated liquor in South Korea is Sunyang Co., which makes the popular O2 Lin spirit.  The company claims that the oxygenated alcoholic beverage, "helps clarify your brain, energizes your body cells, and maintains healthy and resilient skin."

While that might not hold true, the new study indicates that the oxygenated alcohol may well be significantly better for you than its non-oxygenated counterpart and be a more pleasant experience.  

Perhaps the only question that remains is whether the oxygenated drinks can equal their non-oxygenated counterparts in taste and mouth-feel.  If they can, the study may indicate a significant leap towards Star Trek-like "synthehol".

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RE: money making scheme
By SilthDraeth on 3/2/2010 10:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
They are Korean. Koreans can handle hard alcohol better than beer. But still can't handle that much.

RE: money making scheme
By Yawgm0th on 3/3/2010 1:50:27 AM , Rating: 1
Everything about this is wrong. Simply being Korean doesn't make you genetically bad at handling alcohol -- being Korean or any far east Asian does correlate with lower body mass and a resulting lower tolerance for alcohol consumption.

Other than that, it's ridiculous to say they handle hard liquor better than beer genetically or at all. Unless they are allergic or intolerant specifically to an ingredient of beer, they won't handle any quantity of one alcohol better than another. As long as the actual alcohol content is the same for the amounts of liquor imbibed, the booze itself does not matter.

RE: money making scheme
By Samus on 3/3/2010 2:34:56 AM , Rating: 2
I know a 130lb Korean girl that could probably out-drink anybody here. However, she is the rare exception in my pool of Asian friends. It could be genetic, skill/adaption, metabolism, or something she's not telling us about how she really feels the next morning, but I really hate it when people stereotype Asian alcohol compliance.

I have to agree Asian culture would be cooperative with hard liqour over beer, simply because beer hasn't existed in their culture for nearly as long as, say, Sake, dating back to 1200AD

That would imply that region of the would used alcohol for intoxication centuries before that of Africa and many other regions where people don't stereotype to be unable to "hold their liqour"

RE: money making scheme
By hyvonen on 3/3/2010 12:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
All the Koreans I know drink heavily, and can handle their liquor quite well. This covers beer, whiskey, vodka etc.

RE: money making scheme
By raddude9 on 3/3/2010 4:05:13 AM , Rating: 2
Simply being Korean doesn't make you genetically bad at handling alcohol

sorry to burst your bubble, but yes it does, look up 'alcohol tolerance' on wikipedia and you will find:

An estimated one third of persons of East Asian and Native American descent have an alcohol flush reaction, a condition where the body cannot break down ingested alcohol completely because it lacks the genetically coded enzyme that performs this function in the bodies of drinkers with "European" tolerance levels.[8] Flushing, or blushing, is associated with the erythema (reddening caused by dilation of capillaries) of the face, neck, and shoulder, after consumption of alcohol.

RE: money making scheme
By alanore on 3/3/2010 6:52:42 AM , Rating: 3
The reason for Europeans (and those from European decent, the Americas) being better at handling alcohol than those from Asian decent is to do with how they make their water safe hundred of years ago.

Dirty water was one of the biggest killers and spreaders of diseases. The Asian way was to boil the water and typically add leaves, making tea. The European way, was to make ale (beer) which killed off the bacteria, this is how they evolved a higher tolerance for it.

RE: money making scheme
By hyvonen on 3/3/2010 12:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
BS. Hundreds of years is not enough for a population to develop a significant genetic advantage.

Unless those who couldn't handle beer died from it, no evolutionary difference can be assumed here.

RE: money making scheme
By Yames on 3/9/2010 5:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that but fermented alcoholic drinks have been a part of nearly every society over the past few thousand years. Perhaps Europeans have just drank much more to excess then Asians and over the past 1000 or so years. That may be enough time.

RE: money making scheme
By Hieyeck on 3/3/2010 10:39:07 AM , Rating: 1
Being asian, 130-135 lbs, I can out drink all but 2 of my friends. One's a bartender, the other got a hard drink paid for by company every day for lunch for 4 years (lunch meetings in NZ O_o).

RE: money making scheme
By poohbear on 3/3/2010 10:58:04 AM , Rating: 2
its not genetics that they can drink more alcohol, its because they have a thing called soju which is hard alcohol and EVERYBODY and their cat drinks it. Ur expected to drink it w/ friends, and that builds their tolerance up to hard alcohol. that's all.

RE: money making scheme
By Samus on 3/3/2010 12:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
right. my comment surrounding genetics is based on alcohol, not beer. there is a substantial difference in how the liver breaks down enzymes in beer opposed to sake or soju.

and one thing a lot of people don't take into consideration is the earlier drinking age of asians (and europeans, and the rest of the world for that matter) as compared to average american teens. now don't get me wrong, I grew up in an irish neighborhood in Chicago and started drinking when I was 14. i remember my first taste of alcohol like it was yesterday, Guinness and Harp.

but many kids in the USA don't start drinking until their later teen years. in Korea and Japan, its tradition to drink pretty heavy alcohol before your even a teenager. that has a lot more than you think to do with 'holding your liquor.'

RE: money making scheme
By Shatbot on 3/4/2010 5:22:20 AM , Rating: 2
Being Korean doesn't make you "genetically bad" at handling alcohol but being Asian does. Many Asians have a less effective version of the enzyme that breaks down the step after alcohol. Supposedly many can get red noses and puffy faces when they drink alcohol.

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