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Beer Biotech Medicine

Extreme Microbe Brewing: the Curse of Auto-Brewery Syndrome 110

Posted by timothy
from the certainly-not-what-I-want-my-gut-to-do dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a story excerpt that may inspire envy in some readers: "Most beer guts are the result of consuming fermented brew, but a new case study describes a rare syndrome that had one man's gut fermenting brew, not consuming it. It's called gut fermentation syndrome or auto-brewery syndrome, and it's 'a relatively unknown phenomenon in Western medicine' according to a study published in July's International Journal of Clinical Medicine. 'Only a few cases have been reported in the last three decades' according to Dr. Barbara Cordell, the dean of nursing at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, and Dr. Justin McCarthy, a Lubbock gastroenterologist, the study's authors." (More at NPR.)
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Extreme Microbe Brewing: the Curse of Auto-Brewery Syndrome

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  • Futurama did it! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:22AM (#44910059)

    Futuramas Bender already did it!

  • Okay, I'll admit this appeals to my interests, but seriously? This belongs on Fark, not Slashdot.

    WTF, editors?
  • by no-body (127863) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:42AM (#44910109)
    it's not the gut but the critters living in the gut. Lactic acid bacteria can ferment starch into alcohol and so can yeasts. Seems the gut flora needs to be way out of balance to get one drunk.
    • Re:guess.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:45AM (#44910115)

      Seems the gut flora needs to be way out of balance to get one drunk.

      The NPR article noted it occurring after taking antibiotics.

      • Re:guess.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @02:45AM (#44910287)
        Different species of bacteria in your gut form competitive colonies. Antibiotics can wipe out the dominant species, allowing a different species to gain dominance and inhibit the previous dominant species from regaining its original population. Several years ago, my doctor diagnosed my constant stomachaches and vomiting as being caused by a certain type of bacteria which had colonized my stomach. He put me on a treatment of strong antibiotics to wipe them out and allow a more benign gut bacteria to take over. My symptoms went away after the treatment.

        Similar things have happened on a macro scale. It's suspected the cod fishery off New England has suffered such a fate after severe overfishing led to its collapse in the 1990s. There have been draconian limits on commercial cod catches for two decades, but no rebound in the cod population. It's suspected that capelin have now taken over as the dominant species in that ecosystem. Capelin used to be eaten by the larger cod. But when overfishing decimated the cod stocks, the capelin were able to grow both in size and population. The theory is the tables have turned now and the capelin are eating the juvenile cod, preventing the cod from reaching the size and numbers which would threaten the dominance of the capelin.
        • Re:guess.. (Score:5, Funny)

          by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @03:04AM (#44910331) Homepage Journal

          The solution is obvious. Do capelin go better with white wine or red?

        • by manu0601 (2221348)

          Several years ago, my doctor diagnosed my constant stomachaches and vomiting as being caused by a certain type of bacteria which had colonized my stomach

          Helicobacter pylori? It manages to prevent your stomach from producing acidity, making the place nice for him. Unfortunately that impairs your digestion a lot, favoring allergies (because of proteins that pass through intact), and other pathogen proliferation in the gut (because they are not killed in stomach).

    • The average person produces around 30ml of pure ethanol endogenously every day. Alcohol dehydrogenases exist for a reason.

      • While I was looking for a citation, I found that if I look into Wikipedia I get differing results. It says there that the amount of ethanol produced by the body is about 3g per day [wikipedia.org]. Now if we look up the density of ethanol [wikipedia.org], we find that it is 0.789 g/cm^3 (cm^3 = ml). By plugging in the numbers, 3g / 0.789g/ml gives me 3.8ml.
  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:48AM (#44910123)
    There is no causation between beer consumption and a "beer gut". People should keep urban myths like this out of "scientific" oriented texts so people might actually learn the truth. Beer guts exist because people exercise less than they should and have a diet that doesn't match their metabolism and activity pattern. The fact that beer often is part of that diet is a correlation at best, but no causation.
    • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:54AM (#44910137)
      When living in Austria, I was introduced to a more accurate term for the beer gut: Backhendlfriedhof, i.e. fried-chicken graveyard.
    • by yotto (590067)

      There is no causation between beer consumption and a "beer gut".

      Other than that you're consuming hundreds of empty calories along with a drug that makes you want to sit around and do nothing...

      • by Saei (3133199)
        As well as lowering testosterone levels.
      • by formfeed (703859)

        There is no causation between beer consumption and a "beer gut".

        Other than that you're consuming hundreds of empty calories along with a drug that makes you want to sit around and do nothing...

        a drug that makes you want to sit around and do nothing?
        Hey, watch this...

    • This. my BMI is 21, I exercise a lot, my belly is flat as a pancake, yet I drink at least 9 or 10 brown Belgian trappist beers per week (and those are loaded with alcohol at over 10 percent). I've been doing it for years too.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @03:26AM (#44910383)

        Wipe that self-righteous smirk off your face. You'll get older.

        • What gives you the idea that I'm not already older? :)

          Hint: I was in my late 20s when I registered on /. You have my UID number, work it out.

          • by WillKemp (1338605)

            What gives you the idea that I'm not already older? :)

            Hint: I was in my late 20s when I registered on /. You have my UID number, work it out.

            You're not very old then.

            When i was in my early 20s i was programming computers that loaded their stage 2 boot loaders off paper tape and their operating systems from punched cards. Slashdot was nearly 20 years away in those days.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 21, 2013 @07:56AM (#44910941)

              When i was in my early 20s i was programming computers that loaded their stage 2 boot loaders off paper tape and their operating systems from punched cards. Slashdot was nearly 20 years away in those days.

              You spelled "GET OFF MY LAWN" wrong.

            • by nobodie (1555367)

              Boys, boys, when I was in my 20s they only had mainframes with punchcard machines. Now get off my lawn.

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        9 to 10 per week? Beer guts are usually associated with people who drink 9-10 beers a day or more. I got mine years ago when I generally drank a 12 pack a day. I was drinking a six pack before going bar hopping just to save a few bucks at the clubs. I can still consume a case of beer on a long day of drinking (24 beers) without much thought about it and not getting past a buzz.

        But I know people who drank that much or more who didn't have a beer gut so exercise, metabolism and probably a host of other things

        • 9 to 10 per week? Beer guts are usually associated with people who drink 9-10 beers a day or more. I got mine years ago when I generally drank a 12 pack a day.

          Wow, I don't know if I could survive that for more than 3 days. The most I ever drank on a regular basis was maybe 3 large strong beers and a quarter bottle of scotch a day, and I couldn't stand that for too long without gaining a ton of weight very quickly.

          • by retchdog (1319261)

            Assuming you mean full pints of, say, barleywine or imperial stout, that can easily be alcohol-equivalent to ~7 12 oz. cans of standard 5% crap beer (12-packs are usually crap beer). The scotch gets you at least another 6. It works out about the same, apart from taste and price.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            We're not talking about large strong beers, usually. Most people who are drinking a 12 pack are drinking Meister Brau or something. My dad put away a case of shitty beer like Brew 102 (it was on sale at the Food & Liquor^W^W^WCheaper! for a long time) nightly for years. Yes, that is as lame as it sounds. Alcohol is a hell of a drug. I am lucky enough to not be an alcoholic. My response to waking up and finding out I did something stupid is not to try to drink away the stupid.

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              My response to waking up and finding out I did something stupid is not to try to drink away the stupid.

              Indeed, alcohol never raised anyone's IQ. "Drinking away the stupid" is like trying to cure a headache by banging your head against the wall.

              BTW, I just metamoderated you "insightful".

        • >> I can still consume a case of beer on a long day of drinking (24 beers) without much thought about it and not getting past a buzz.

          Bud Light?

          • by sumdumass (711423)

            Usually, regular Budweiser but I also drink some of the bitter crap like Guinness Foreign Extra Stout with the same effects too.

            It doesn't really matter because it is the amount of time spent drinking not the alcohol content of the drink. When I say long day, I'm talking 12+ hours. Start at 11 or so in the AM and finish about 2 am like at the truck and tractor pulls or when smoking a hog or something.

        • by RussR42 (779993)

          I can still consume a case of beer on a long day of drinking (24 beers) without much thought about it and not getting past a buzz.

          Perhaps you should try real beer.

        • 9 to 10 per week? Beer guts are usually associated with people who drink 9-10 beers a day or more.

          You're probably right. I'd would however be interested to see how specialist brews Roscoe P. Coltrane mentions compare against the 12-pack swill most people drink.

          Trappists are mighty beers; thicker, stronger-flavoured and highly alcoholic. I can drink three Carlsberg Elephants at 7.2% and feel little more than a mild buzz, but a single Rochforte 10 at ~11.2% reminds me I'm a lightweight real fast. Whether it puts on a beer pot faster than supermarket beer would be a worthy experiment to further the progres

      • I do that in a day (okay, so with 8% beer). Hell, I've cut down to a beer a day and I've lost 15 lbs in a month before sitting on my ass. I know women who weigh about 100 lbs who drink more than you on a regular basis.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        ..you do understand that 9-10 per week will barely put you in risk stats for alcohol consumption? (in english that means that you're not drinking that much of it at all).

        and still, you could easily calculate the calories to be quite a bit. you could just substitute them with kebabs and get some muscle, boy. it's not like you're getting drunk from that amount spread over the week anyways.

        oh and fkin hipster, hipsters don't get beer bellies to begin with. IPA got out of fashion?

        • by gordo3000 (785698)

          while we are dispelling myths, it's good to not perpetuate the stupidity that just eating protein is somehow muscle building, and that eating more is a requirement to build large muscles.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        First, if you space it out evenly, that's 1.5 beers per day, not a huge number, and within the ballpark of what is generally considered OK or even slightly beneficial (one glass of wine/day). It's also a big question of how you consume it. Is it a drink with a meal? Are you getting drunk? Is the rest of your nutrition reasonable? Etc. Once you cross a threshold, though, the effects of alcohol on your waistline and health start being bad. Where that is depends on your metabolism. And alcohol consumption is s

    • by WillKemp (1338605)

      There is no causation between beer consumption and a "beer gut".

      Citation please!

      I think you're almost certainly wrong (no citation, this is just informed opinion) - particularly when it comes to people who drink home brew or other beers that have a fair amount of live yeast in them. Part of a beer gut is intestinal irritation causing swelling - and that can be caused by yeast. Part of it is a swollen liver - caused by the alcohol. Probably only a relatively small proportion is fat.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Citation please!

        I think you're almost certainly wrong (no citation, this is just informed opinion) - particularly when it comes to people who drink home brew or other beers that have a fair amount of live yeast in them. Part of a beer gut is intestinal irritation causing swelling - and that can be caused by yeast. Part of it is a swollen liver - caused by the alcohol. Probably only a relatively small proportion is fat.

        WTF? You demand a citation, then spill a bunch of false information, I mean "informed opinions", with no citation at all. WebMD [webmd.com] says you are totally wrong. It's fat.

        • by WillKemp (1338605)

          WTF? You demand a citation, then spill a bunch of false information, I mean "informed opinions", with no citation at all. WebMD [webmd.com] says you are totally wrong. It's fat.

          No citations there!

        • by WillKemp (1338605)

          WTF? You demand a citation, then spill a bunch of false information, I mean "informed opinions", with no citation at all. WebMD [webmd.com] says you are totally wrong. It's fat.

          It doesn't say anything of the kind.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      There is no causation between beer consumption and a "beer gut"

      There is no relation between your comment and the truth. Beer guts ain't fat, that's not how your body works. Fat is added to your whole body when you get fat, and it's removed from your whole body when you lose weight. Beer guts are enlarged, hardened livers, or fluid seeping into the belly from a cirrhotic liver.

      • Beer guts ain't fat, that's not how your body works...Beer guts are enlarged, hardened livers

        Citation needed.

        "An excess of visceral fat is known as central obesity, the "pot belly" or "beer belly" effect, in which the abdomen protrudes excessively....A study has shown that alcohol consumption is directly associated with waist circumference and with a higher risk of abdominal obesity in men, but not in women, in the present population." -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_gut#Relationship_with_Alcohol_Co [wikipedia.org]

      • Beer guts are enlarged, hardened livers, or fluid seeping into the belly from a cirrhotic liver.

        Based on that amazing revelation plus observation of ale-swilling women I can only conclude that females have two livers, lower down and on the opposite side of the body.

    • People should keep urban myths like this out of "scientific" oriented texts

      I should break this out of its glass case marked In case of emergency

      You must be new here.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      It's part of the cause. There are 100 to 200 calories in a glass of beer, depending on the variety. Of course, that assumes the beer doesn't make you feel full and prevent you from eating an offsetting amount of food.

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      "Beer guts exist because people exercise less than they should and have a diet that doesn't match their metabolism and activity pattern."

      People should keep urban myths like this out of "scientific" oriented texts so people might actually learn the truth.

      Weight management isn't as simple as calories in vs. calories out. The problem with diets is not that they don't match "metabolism and activity pattern." It is "a correlation at best, but no causation."

      • Weight management isn't as simple as calories in vs. calories out.

        Yes it is. There were no fatties at Auschwitz.

        • by femtobyte (710429)

          Perhaps there was an unstated assumption in the definition of "weight management" in the post above yours, of "keeping one's weight down while maintaining a higher quality of life than a Nazi death camp inmate." For people who want to control their weight, while not feeling miserable and lethargic and excruciatingly famished all the time, there will be more to the process than "calories in vs. calories out" --- specifically, finding ways to achieve a good caloric in/out balance that do not result in misery

          • by russotto (537200)

            For people who want to control their weight, while not feeling miserable and lethargic and excruciatingly famished all the time, there will be more to the process than "calories in vs. calories out"

            If you have those requirements, the problem is overspecified (that is, there is no solution which meets the requirements) for most people.

    • by nobodie (1555367)

      I had a brickmason who worked for me years ago. He no longer drank beer, but he would drick a six-pack or more of soda every day. He said that until he started drinkiong soda he didn't have the belly at all. When he worked for me he was so old and... swollen... that he would wash his boots every time he peed, just cause he couldn't see them. Probably hadn't seen his thingy in 20 years either. Stanley Roach, now I remember his name, he was an awesome brickmason, even in his 70s.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @01:58AM (#44910151)

    In Nigeria people have been eating beetle larvae for centuries. Anthropologists have explained this as a rich nutrient source which could help mankind in the future. Now it turns out the little buggers (weevils) have an ethanol-content of more than 6 %! So, food or protein my ass. Those Nigerians were just getting some cheap booze!

    The authors, Ogbonda & Kiin-Kabari (2013, http://www.academicjournals.org/SRE/PDF/pdf2013/11Feb/Ogbonda%20and%20Kiin-Kabari.pdf [academicjournals.org]) write "Result will help to explain the observed intoxicating (auto-brewery syndrome) property of the larva".

    Life is fantastic.

  • ... The most current case comes courtesy of an unnamed 61-year-old Texas man who for five years seemed to be drunk -- all of the time...

    Drunk for five years straight??? Must have been a hella of a hang over after being drunk that long!!!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not if he kept drinking water.

      A hangover is caused by dehydration.

      I have never had a hang over in my life, to be honest I have only been really drunk a few times of my life.

      But I tend to get thirsty from drinking alcohol, and instead of drinking more alcohol my body says to drink some water.
      If you drink a glass of water with each glass of alcohol it will be hard to get drunk and even harder to get a hangover.
      Also drink a glass of water when you go to bed, keep a bottle of water next to your bed, and drink a

      • Re:Hangover??? (Score:4, Informative)

        by jamesh (87723) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @06:04AM (#44910679)

        A hangover is caused by dehydration.

        A hangover is caused by drinking alcohol. Being dehydrated is one of the contributing factors to a hangover, and probably the easiest to protect yourself against, but alcohol in excessive quantities is basically poison and if you overdo it you are going to get a hangover even if you keep yourself hydrated.

        Drinking more water probably means you end up drinking less alcohol too, which is probably a good thing

      • You don't have to go far to see how false that is. Drinking water can help while you're hungover, but only rest can fix it. And no matter how hydrated you stay this chemical buildup is what's hurting you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangover#Acetaldehyde [wikipedia.org]
      • by WillKemp (1338605)

        A hangover is caused by dehydration.

        No it's not. A hangover is caused by ethanal poisoning. Ethanal (archaic name: acetaldehyde) is what your liver converts ethanol into - it converts that to ethanoic acid (archaic name: acetic acid, aka vinegar) before it excretes it. Ethanal has an apple smell and even inhaling its fumes can give you a mild hangover. Water helps dilute it and helps your body excrete it, but dehydration only exacerbates a hangover, it doesn't cause it.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Finally, I can plead the Americans with Disabilities act when I get a DUI.

      Interestingly, wouldn't federal law trump state law on this? I mean if someone is drunk due to a medical condition then a DUI would likely go against the ADA. Otherwise it would be like passing a law saying that people while licensed to drive, if they have a medical condition (lets say heart disease) can be incarcerated and fined for driving.

      • by Zumbs (1241138)
        If you cannot drive safely in your current condition, you should not drive, and if you do you should be fined. Even if you do have a license. Naturally, this can depend on the medical condition. In some cases, it is highly unlikely that your ability to drive is impaired, in other cases, the condition can make it impossible to drive without being impaired (e.g. blindness). Some conditions are temporary, so it makes sense not to take away the drivers license when suffering from such conditions.
        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Most drunk drivers can drive as well as most sober drivers when they get a DUI. The legal limits is really too low for someone who is accustom to drinking. Cops do things like paint white dots on the treads of tires on cars parked at or near bars then make something up to pull them over later when they see the streak rolling down the road. They also sit outside bars and watch people walking to their cars and pull over the people who display "drunken" behavior.

          A DUI is mostly about money and little more. The

          • Some != Most
            Some < Most

            Professional drivers can zoom down the Interstate at 120MPH safely. Most people can't that is why we have speed limits.

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              You are forgetting that the legal term for drunk driving is an number encoded into law by the state that measures the alcohol concentration in the blood stream. A well known effect called alcohol tolerance [wikipedia.org] allows a person who drinks regularly to consume more alcohol then others before the effects of the alcohol show. Unfortunately for the offender, the blood alcohol concentration does not change with the person's tolerance so a person with a .08 BAC can be as sober as someone who doesn't drink if their tole

              • From the very article you linked:

                "Direct alcohol tolerance is largely dependent on body size. Large-bodied people will require more alcohol to reach insobriety than lightly built people. Thus, men, being larger than women on average, will have a higher alcohol tolerance."

                Odd. See, the C in BAC stands for concentration. So body size is already taken into account, isn't it?

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  A +B can equal C but C doesn't always equal B+A.

                  Large bodied people do need more alcohol to equate to the same blood alcohol concentration. That's not what the article is saying though. That is a matter of dilution not how drunk someone is by the effect of alcohol (impaired reflexes, decision making and so on). Dilution is as simple as adding 3 grams of something to 10 grams or 15 grams. It would take more then 3 grams to equate the same concentration in the 15 gram batch. What the article is saying is that

          • by WillKemp (1338605)

            Most drunk drivers can drive as well as most sober drivers

            Of course they can. Just like the vast majority of people think their driving skills are better than average.

            Most people may be able to drive reasonably well when they're not too drunk, but their reaction times are slower, so if something happens - .e.g., a pedestrian walks out in front of them - they can't react as fast, and that pedestrian's dead, where they may have lived if the driver had reacted faster..

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              Blood alcohol content does not have the same effects on everyone. At .08, a legally drunk driver who drinks regularly will not have their reaction times or any senses dulled like a novice drinker. If you take two legally drunk people, one who drinks once or twice a year and one who drinks every night, you will find one of them to be more capable then the other and not noticeably under any influence.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_tolerance [wikipedia.org]

          • by u38cg (607297)
            It's not about driving, it's about reacting. I can drive when I can't even focus both eyes, but I sure as hell can't react to anything on the road.
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_tolerance [wikipedia.org]

              BAC or Blood alcohol content is not the same drunk for everyone. As tolerances build up, people who don't even notice an effect from the alcohol will still be legally drunk. The low limit is for the occasional drinkers who will be adversely impacted by drinking such small amounts.

              • by u38cg (607297)
                And your practical method for implementing law based on this is? It's a simple message: don't drink then drive. The limit is to let people have a glass of wine the night before they drive to work, not to let people chuck as many down their neck as they can get away with.
            • He's confused. Alcohol tolerance is the ability to consume a relatively large amount of alcohol and still have a relatively low BAC.

              It's not, as he thinks, that the effect of BAC itself is lessened.

        • by sjames (1099)

          What if your current condition also impaired your ability to realize you were impaired and you had none of the usual external clues such as "I have been at a bar all night" or "I just killed a fifth".

          A stroke can severely impair your ability to drive but in some cases it also leaves you unaware that anything is wrong even when it is blindinglyu obvious to anyone watching you.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday September 21, 2013 @03:08AM (#44910347) Homepage Journal

    Cop: You just ran a red and you're weaving like a Sarejevan shopper. How much have you been drinking?

    You: Nothing, honest. But I did eat two donuts and a large muffin.

    • You still get a breath check and fail. It is a DUI Driving While Intoxicated. Not drinking and driving. If you are intoxicated due to a medical condition you are still not fit to drive.

  • Manbeerpig
  • SCIRP are a for-profit, supposedly peer-reviewed journal scam with a history of spamming academics and operating bogus conferences. Their journals frequently list academics as being on the editorial board without the academic's knowledge or permission. I'm a mail administrator for a university, and I block their junk on sight.

    I'm not saying the paper has no merit - I'm just saying the authors have done themselves a grave dis-service on the credibility front by publishing with a journal that spammed them, sp

  • In his main book, Michel Montignac also talks about this, about a person who never drank, but got cirrosis due to alcohol forming in his body. Unfortunately, he generalises it too much, saying that everybody can get it by eating too much fruit after dinner.

  • Just imagine if the World Congress of Mullahs somehow managed to weaponize (read: aerosolize) this beelzebubian yeast and it got loose during a demo at their Annual General Meeting...

  • Considering the microbiological fun fair we alreadhy have in a healthy gut and that a yeast infection or other disturbances in the balance of gut bacteria isn't too uncommon, I'd have expected to see alcohol producing yeasts more often.

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