While it may sound like science fiction, researchers are beginning to find that there is a condition that causes some people to produce alcohol in their guts. This phenomenon is referred to as Auto-Brewery Syndrome and has given doctors, lawmakers and scientists an entirely new perspective on certain cases of drunk driving.
How It Happens
The process involved in the syndrome actually creates ethanol within a patient’s body. Some researchers have found that ingesting large amounts of starch could lead to intoxication. NPR reports that further investigation found that if the gut was full of a bacteria called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the sugars from the starch would be consumed and converted into ethanol by the bacteria. This bacteria is also taken by some people as a health supplement and is commonly referred to as Brewer’s yeast. It is found in several different foods but can cause problems when it lives and grows in the body instead of passing through.
This type of bacteria was found to be the cause in one case in Texas. A man repeatedly got so drunk that his wife bought him a breathalyzer. Assumed to be a closet alcoholic, he discovered the truth only after he checked himself into the emergency room complaining of dizziness. He had an alcohol breath concentration of 0.37 percent without having consumed any alcohol. Scientists then isolated him in a room and periodically checked his blood alcohol levels. Their findings indicated that he was telling the truth; his level raised to 1.5 times the legal limit without ever having a single drink.
Another case in New York found that one woman was taken to the hospital after a breath analyzer indicated her level to be 0.4 percent, numbers that can lead to death. Despite this extreme amount, the woman was not showing any signs of drunkenness and had not had any alcohol for hours. After monitoring her for 12 hours, her team found that she had a blood alcohol concentration of double the legal limit without ever consuming any alcohol. Her DUI case was dismissed by the judge after reviewing this information.
While this syndrome is considered very rare, there are several people across the country whose bodies create their own alcohol. If you have been charged with a DUI and believe that you may have this syndrome, it is important to contact an attorney to help fight your case. Experienced lawyers and doctors can work together to arrange testing and discover if you are a victim of Auto-Brewery Syndrome.