The team from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, has warned that people who have undergone bariatric surgery may be at the risk of getting drunk faster as the procedure drastically lowers body tolerance for alcohol.
Researchers found that women who had undergone gastric bypass surgery reached certain blood alcohol concentrations in half the number of drinks compared to women who did not have the surgery.
The women, who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) - the most common bariatric surgical procedure performed in the world - also reported a greater feeling of drunkenness.
"The results demonstrate that RYGB increases the rate of delivery of ingested alcohol into the systemic circulation," said lead researcher Marta Yanina Pepino.
Pepino and colleagues conducted a study that included eight women who had RYGB surgery.
The researchers observed that the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) peaked in women who have had this surgery after two drinks compared to four drinks in those women who have not had this surgery.
They found that BAC increased faster, the peak BAC was approximately two-fold higher and feelings of drunkenness were greater in women with surgery group.
It is likely that RYGB-related changes in gastrointestinal anatomy alter the pharmacokinetics (the reaction of the body to a drug) and subjective effects of ingested alcohol, which contributes to the increased risk of alcohol use disorders.
The findings have important public safety and clinical implications.
"The BACs in the RYGB+ group exceeded the legal driving limit for 30 minutes after alcohol ingestion but the BACs in the RYGB-group never even reached the legal driving limit," the researchers noted in a paper that appeared in the journal JAMA Surgery
"These data underscore the need to make patients aware of the alterations in alcohol metabolism that occur after RYGB surgery, to help reduce the risk of potential serious consequences of moderate alcohol consumption," the authors concluded.