A 61 year-old woman has become the first known case in the world of a person to produce alcohol in their bladder.
Known as “urinary auto-brewery syndrome”, the extremely rare medical condition means that without ever touching alcohol on her lips, she urinates it.
She also remarkably doesn’t feel the effects of intoxication from her own alcohol-producing bladder.
Dr. Kenichi Tamama, lead author of the study and associate professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh explained to Insider:
The alcohol does not penetrate the bladder wall to the capillary vessels (to reach the bloodstream) before the patient empties the bladder.
She’s able to produce the alcohol because she has high levels of both glucose and yeast in her bladder.
The researchers hypothesised:
These findings led us to test whether yeast colonising in the bladder could ferment sugar to produce ethanol.
Sure enough, the team confirmed the ethanol production in her bladder and attempted to control the abnormal yeast production with antifungal treatment.
Unfortunately, this course of action failed and medical professionals chalked it down to “poorly-controlled diabetes”.
The only reason doctors discovered the rare medical condition was because the woman needed a liver transplant due to cirrhosis (long-term liver damage).
The woman’s urine sample tested positive for alcohol, despite her insistence she didn’t drink.
After the rare medical condition discovery, she’s now back on the list for organ donation.
Dr. Tamama added:
It was very unfair for the patient.
Due to the anonymity of the woman, it’s unknown how she is doing. But we hope she's well!