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A woman is thought to be the first person in the world to naturally urinate alcohol due to an extremely rare medical phenomenon.

Doctors say the US patient has a condition where booze naturally brews in the bladder from the fermentation of yeast.

Her condition emerged after she went to hospital to be placed on a liver transplant waiting list.

The 61-year-old, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had signs of liver damage and poorly controlled diabetes.

Medics had previously thought her issues were a result of a drinking problem.

This was because urine tests for alcohol were consistently positive, Science Alert reported.

The team from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre Presbyterian Hospital initially believed she was "hiding an alcohol use disorder" as their encounters were similar.

But the doctors realised her blood test results for ethanol were negative.

And she did not appear to show signs of being drunk during trips to the clinic, despite having high levels of ethanol in her urine.

Researchers wrote: "However, we noted that plasma test results for ethanol and urine test results for ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate, which are the metabolites of ethanol, were negative, whereas urine test results for ethanol were positive."

She also had large amounts of glucose and high levels of budding yeast in her urine.

The team said this led them to test "whether yeast colonising in the bladder could ferment sugar to produce ethanol".

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Further tests on her urine showed she had high levels of ethanol production.

This suggested it was because a natural yeast had been fermenting sugar in her bladder.

The yeast is normally found in the body in lower levels and is related to brewer’s yeast, the team wrote in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Doctors tried to get rid of the yeast with anti-fungal treatments.

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But they did not work and the woman was reconsidered for a liver transplant.

Scientists are looking to call the condition 'bladder fermentation syndrome' or 'urinary auto-brewery syndrome'.

They say it also bears similarities to auto-brewery syndrome, a condition that can make a sufferer intoxicated simply from ingesting carbohydrates.

Researchers concluded other patients may have suffered from the same condition before, but the symptoms were not recognised.

There had previously been reports of similar production of ethanol in urine in a postmortem case.

They said medics must be "diligent about paying close attention" to medical records and lab results and should always investigate inconsistencies.

  • Alcohol
  • Science

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