Man’s body produces its own alcohol, leading to DWI arrest

Auto-brewery syndrome occurs when yeast in your gut converts carbohydrates to alcohol

Drinking just one glass of wine or beer a day may increase your risk of breast cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. An average of 10 grams a day of alcohol That means a small glass of wine or an 8-ounce beer could put you at a greater risk of breast cancer, the study found.

Imagine being pulled over for DWI and registering a blood alcohol level of 0.2% — more than twice the legal limit. Now, imagine that happening even though you’ve nothing to drink.

When police pulled over a South Carolina man recently on suspicion of drunken driving, the man assured officers he had not been drinking. When the breathalyzer registered the equivalent of 10 drinks in his blood, however, they didn’t believe him.

It took researchers at Richmond University Medical Center to vindicate the driver, who was 46 years old. Apparently, the man didn’t need to go drinking — his body was producing its own alcohol.

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In their study, published in BMJ Open Gastrenterology, Fahad Malik, Prasanna Wickremesinghe and Jessie Saverimuttu wrote the man suffered from auto-brewery syndrome. ABS, or gut fermentation syndrome, "is a rarely diagnosed medical condition where ingested carbohydrates are converted to alcohol by fungi in the gastrointestinal tract," they wrote. "Patients with this condition become inebriated and suffer all the medical and social implications of alcoholism, including arrest for drunken  driving."

"These patients have the exact same implications of alcoholism: the smell, the breath, drowsiness, gait changes," Malik, the study's lead author, told CNN. "They will present as someone who's intoxicated by alcohol, but the only difference here is that these patients can be treated by antifungal medications."

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The researchers say they think antibiotics the man took years earlier altered his gut microbiome and allowed the yeast and another fungus to grow. Antifungal therapies and probiotics were prescribed to help normalize the bacteria in the man’s gut.

"Approximately 1.5 years later, he remains asymptomatic and has resumed his previous lifestyle, including eating a normal diet while still checking his breath alcohol levels sporadically," the study states.

The South Carolina man isn't the first case of auto-brewery syndrome. Police dropped DUI charges against New York woman in 2016 after doctors were able to prove her body, too, is a brewery.

"This is a condition that is treatable with dietary modifications, appropriate antifungal therapy, and possibly probiotics," the researchers wrote.