Is it because I have no gall bladder that I can't drink?
February 28, 2007 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy last November (gall bladder removal). Recently I have noticed I get much drunker, much faster than I used to. Is there likely to be a connection between these two facts?
posted by nowonmai to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Yes. (I've had friends who had gall bladders removed and noticed similar responses)
posted by jmnugent at 3:22 PM on February 28, 2007

I'm merely speculating (talking out of my blowhole) but without the bile to emulsify dietary fat, maybe the fat is less efficient at 'soaking up' the alcohol and it gets into your bloodstream much quicker?

Too bad you've (probably) never tried the inhaled alcohol; a good experiment would be to see if you got drunk faster inhaling evaporated/atomized alcohol before/after the cholecystectomy to determine if your now rapid intoxication is related to dietary issues.
posted by porpoise at 4:02 PM on February 28, 2007

I know people who have had their gall bladder removed who haven't experienced any noticeable difference in the rate at which their alcohol consumption affects them. However, that may be tied to the small amount of alcohol they tend to ingest anyway.
posted by inconsequentialist at 4:21 PM on February 28, 2007

Most absorption of alcohol occurs in the stomach. But perhaps the gall bladder is a contributor of alcohol dehydrogenase - an enzyme that assists in breaking down the booze.

I found this abstract about bile acids in deermice lacking liver alcohol dehydrogenase, but it is more about the bile acids than the metabolism of alcohol. Off the cuff - I think there could be a relationship, but when it comes to drinking there are lots of variables that can effect one's depth of drunkenness, as I'm sure you already know.
posted by isopraxis at 5:20 PM on February 28, 2007

Did you take some time off from drinking before and/or after the surgery? I'd think that would be more likely to lower your tolerance than anything having to do with the gallbladder itself. The gallbladder doesn't actually produce anything - it just stores the bile produced by the liver until it's needed for digestion. And as far as I know, bile doesn't have anything to do with alcohol metabolism.

I'd be surprised if there was any correlation between the cholecystectomy and decreased alcohol tolerance, unless your liver was somehow affected during the whole thing, which seems unlikely.
posted by curie at 6:32 PM on February 28, 2007

anecdotal: i have had my gall bladder removed and haven't noticed anything of this sort.
posted by fishfucker at 6:47 PM on February 28, 2007

How fast your stomach contents get shifted to the small intestine (gastric emptying) is a big determinant of how much alcohol is absorbed. Since having food (esp fats) in your stomach is one reason gastric emptying gets slowed, it makes sense to me that having less bile available to emulsify fat might trick your body into faster gastric emptying. Faster gastric emptying --> faster alcohol into the small intestine --> faster intoxication.

More info on alcohol absorption here and here.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:28 AM on March 1, 2007

After I had mine removed I was advised to limit any alcohol in my system and drink plenty of water. It was made clear that there was a negative link between the absence of a gallbladder and alcohol, and I don't think it was just because of the speed in which you get drunk. It's something to do with the way a step in the digestive/absorption process has changed and you need to ease up on the intake of harder to process substances. But IANAD, I can't quite remember the medical details, I've just learned to heed advice and respect my body more than I used to.

And congrats on having the bugger out. It was a horrible ordeal for me, I hope you had some kind of party to celebrate!
posted by saturnine at 10:54 AM on March 3, 2007

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