MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: What causes the 'breaking the seal' phenomenon?

Date: Tue Dec 2 15:38:55 2003
Posted By: Chris Reigstad, Grad student, Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University in St. Louis
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1070386359.Gb

Wow!  I didn't find many answers using my usual resources (PubMed and Google searches).  
However, after speaking to some of the people in my lab, I got some good ideas.  There may 
be several factors at play here.  One possible physiological explanation may be the well-
characterized suppressive effect of alcohol on antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a hormone that 
acts on the kidney, in part, to decrease the volume of urine sent to the bladder.  This 
doesn't completely explain the 'breaking the seal' phenomenon, but perhaps if you take into 
account the lag time required for consumed liquids to enter the bloodstream, go through 
the kidneys and then to the bladder, we're getting closer to the answer.  However, I presume 
there are individual differences that impact this phenomenon, as well (i.e., not everyone 
experiences these sensations universally, or to the same degree).  I propose you do the 
experiment with a group of friends, or just yourself, using water as a control.  See if the 
same phenomenon occurs after consumption of equal volumes of water!  If you see the 
same effect from water, perhaps it's more a matter of the lag time required for your body to 
process the liquid. . .  Sorry I don't have a more concrete answer for you--you could 
resubmit your question as one regarding Physiology (instead of General Biology).  I'd be 
interested to see how much the answer you receive would change.  Thanks for your 

Take care,
Chris Reigstad

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