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Submerging Your Feet in Alcohol Will Not Get You Drunk
Press Release: Submerging your feet in alcohol will not get you drunk
Research: Testing the validity of the Danish urban myth that alcohol can be absorbed through feet: Open labeled self experimental study
Research in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com today explodes the Danish myth that it is possible to get drunk by submerging your feet in alcohol.
The authors, led by Dr Peter Lommer Kristensen from the Hillerød Hospital in Denmark, say it was important that the myth underwent scientific scrutiny to prevent students wasting their time experimenting with this activity.
Three adult volunteers took part in the study. None of them suffered from any chronic skin or liver disease and they were not addicted to alcohol or psychoactive drugs. The participants were not members of any local Alcoholics Anonymous groups and had not been implicated in any serious accidents or socially embarrassing events related to alcohol in the week prior to the study.
The volunteers drank no alcohol for 24 hours before the experiments and they provided a blood sample before submerging their feet in a washing-up bowl containing three bottles of Karloff Vodka. The participants then kept their feet in the vodka for three hours and provided blood samples every half an hour.
The group undertook a self-assessment for signs of drunkenness – they rated themselves on a scale of 0 to 10 on self-confidence, urge to speak and the number of times they desired spontaneous hugs.
The results show that after the three hours there was no increase in the concentration of alcohol in the participants' blood stream.
Kristensen concludes "that the Danish urban myth about being able to get drunk by submerging feet in strong alcoholic beverages is just that; a myth.
He adds that the study has many implications including evidence that driving a vehicle or skippering a boat with boots full of Vodka seems to be safe, and brewery workers cannot become intoxicated by 'falling' into a brewery vat.
Testing the validity of the Danish urban myth that alcohol can be absorbed through feet: open labelled self experimental study
Christian Stevns Hansen, Louise Holmsgaard Færch, Peter Lommer Kristensen BMJ 2010; 341:c6812
Objective To determine the validity of the Danish urban myth that it is possible to get drunk by submerging feet in alcohol.
Design Open labelled, self experimental study, with no control group.
Setting Office of a Danish hospital.
Participants Three adults, median age 32 (range 31-35), free of chronic skin and liver disease and non-dependent on alcohol and psychoactive drugs.
Main outcome measures The primary end point was the concentration of plasma ethanol (detection limit 2.2 mmol/L (10 mg/100 mL)), measured every 30 minutes for three hours while feet were submerged in a washing-up bowl containing the contents of three 700 mL bottles of vodka. The secondary outcome was self assessment of intoxication related symptoms (self confidence, urge to speak, and number of spontaneous hugs), scored on a scale of 0 to 10.
Results Plasma ethanol concentrations were below the detection limit of 2.2 mmol/L (10 mg/100 mL) throughout the experiment. No significant changes were observed in the intoxication related symptoms, although self confidence and urge to speak increased slightly at the start of the study, probably due to the setup.
Conclusion Our results suggest that feet are impenetrable to the alcohol component of vodka. We therefore conclude that the Danish urban myth of being able to get drunk by submerging feet in alcoholic beverages is just that; a myth. The implications of the study are many though.