A convenient excuse or an inconvenient truth?

On the evening of 22 May in the city of Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, a 28-year-old electrician was arrested for drunk driving. Just before midnight the station wagon he was driving collided with a traffic light and after officers arrived on the scene, they determined he was intoxicated.

However, at the same time the suspect told police, “I have a rare condition, and when I get nervous my body produces alcohol. My doctor told me before.” Police didn’t seem to buy it though, and proceeded with the arrest. The suspect is currently denying the charges.

It’s an interesting almost-superpower that this man claims to have. It’s kind of like The Hulk, only when this guy says “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” he doesn’t mean because he’ll turn into an unstoppable monster. He means he’ll complain about foreigners or sing “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons both very loudly and very poorly.

Needless to say, many eyes were rolled online on this day.

“That’s the first time I heard that excuse.”
“That is quite the condition!”
“If it’s true then he definitely shouldn’t be driving.”
“Ah… Wha? No… Really?”
“What the hell is he saying?”
“I remember reading that in an issue of Super Doctor K.”
“I knew a guy at work who always smelled bad when he got nervous…so maybe.”

Many of these naysayers might be surprised to find that the suspect’s highly suspect condition actually exists, and is often called “auto brewery syndrome” but more accurately known as “auto fermentation syndrome” or “endogenous ethanol fermentation” if you want to sound like a real smarty-pants.

Those with this rare condition have an abnormal level of certain types of yeast in their stomachs that aid in converting sugars and other carbs into alcohol. For example, if a person with auto brewery syndrome eats a grape, it literally becomes wine inside their gut. And if done in large enough quantities, then enough wine would be produced to give that person a buzz without ever drinking a drop of alcohol.

▼ Although, one’s initial reaction to that might be, “Cool.” The reality is that it’d be a very terrible condition to have to live with on a daily basis.

It is a rare disorder, however, and often is linked to other diseases. It’s even known to affect young kids which might explain why my two-year-old acts drunk most of the time – constantly bumping into walls and randomly telling me she loves me.

That being said, we still don’t know whether this particular electrician has auto brewery syndrome, or if he had just read about it somewhere beforehand and kept that chestnut of an excuse in his memory for an occasion such as this.

Either way, it seems like a problem than can be easily rectified with a note from the doctor that this guy claims to have consulted. Failing that, justice can always be served the old fashioned way: by pooping into a cup and then examining its yeast content.

Source: Kobe Shimbun Next, Hachima Kiko, Healthline
Top image: Wikipedia/A doubt
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