Field of Science

Not possible to absorb alcohol through feet (of course)

ResearchBlogging.orgBeing from Denmark myself, this Danish study caught my eye. It examines what is apparently an urban legend (they call it urban myth, though) in Denmark, namely that one can get drunk by submersing one's feet in alcohol.

I have never heard of this ridiculously credulous idea, but I am not surprised that some idiots were stupid enough to believe it. But wasting vodka in that way...? But then, it's been over a decade since I moved from Denmark.

The researchers tested the hypothesis in a study aptly named the Peace On Earth study, for Percutaneous Ethanol Absorption Could Evoke Ongoing Nationwide Euphoria And Random Tender Hugs. Bravo!

However, they used three bottles of vodka per person, to which I cannot say any bravos. More like, stupid gits!

At this pint it really doesn't seem to matter much what the results were, both because people with half a brain could foresee the outcome, and also because we already know a really good way of getting alcohol into the blood (two*, actually).

And yet, here are the 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.

The method section is well worth a gander.
The Peace on Earth study was open labelled and self experimental, with no control group. It evaluated the effect of submerging feet in 2100 mL of vodka (three bottles’ worth) on the concentration of plasma ethanol. Secondary end points were intoxication related symptoms.

Three healthy adults (all authors, CSH, LHF, and PLK) agreed to participate. None had any chronic skin or liver disease or was dependent on alcohol or psychoactive drugs. None was members of local Alcoholics Anonymous communities or had been implicated in serious incidents or socially embarrassing events related to alcohol during the week before the experiment.
Yep, those three participants are the authors of the study. And there's the real clue for us all. There's no reason we cannot combine fun times in the office with research. I've always known this, and yet I've never really been able to get anyone else here in the puritan states to agree to have beer in the office (I have, however, brought beer in a mug to lab meetings, which I highly recommend).

* The other one is the swedish method of inserting a cotton ball dipped in vodka into one's rectum. That REALLY works, and three bottles of vodka is enough for several high schools to go around.

Hansen, C., Faerch, L., & Kristensen, P. (2010). Testing the validity of the Danish urban myth that alcohol can be absorbed through feet: open labelled self experimental study BMJ, 341 (dec14 2) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c6812

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