Other causes of failed PEth test for alcohol abuse?

Posted by gjones1956 @gjones1956, Nov 14, 2017

My daughter undergoes periodic peth testing for alchohol abuse. She fails regularly, although swears she drinks NOTHING. We have reason to believe she is telling the truth. Assuming she is indeed not drinking, is there a physical condition or ailment that might produce positive peth tests? She is 29, has enlarged lymph nodes, some kind of mysterious condition that gives her severe hives, etc. We are wondering if some type of autoinflammation or autoimmune condition might explain elevated levels. Our daughter is FINALLY discussing this with her regular doctor but if it is some unusual condition a specialist will be needed. The reason the peth test is required is due to a nasty custody dispute with lots of allegations of misconduct. I just want to know if there is ANYTHING other than alchohol consumption that can lead to positive test results. Any thoughts or knowledge of cases? Thanks for reading.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Mental Health Support Group.

Google search indicated that breathing the vapor of hand sanitizer can cause false positive.



Hi, @gjones1956. I'd like to add my welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I'd also like you to meet here in this discussion some other Mayo Clinic Connect members who may also have some thoughts on your question about what might cause false positive Peth Alcohol Tests. @blindeyepug, @AgentDarien, @ereymann, @hopeful33250 or @amberpep, would you happen to have any thoughts on this?

@jimhd -- thanks very much for the interesting information you shared on a potential connection with hand sanitizer.


I am looking into this also for a patient that is adamant they have not drank. seems false positives are popping up more with PETH


Hello, @brundle -- welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. That is an interesting question.

I'd like to introduce you to some other Connect members who may have a thought on failed PEth tests when the person tested indicates they have not had alcohol: @hopeful33250, @johnbishop, @georgette12 and @gman007.

Was this with a friend or family member, @brundle?


Hello @brundle
Here is a link to an article about the Peth test. http://www.medtox.com/Resources/Images/7256.pdf


Hello @brundle -- I would like to add my welcome to Connect along with @lisalucier. I did a search and found an article on the National Institutes of Health site that has an extensive section on PEth testing.

Biomolecules and Biomarkers Used in Diagnosis of Alcohol Drinking and in Monitoring Therapeutic Interventions
-- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4598755/

I also found a lot of research information on Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/) using the search phrase "peth alcohol test false positive". Here are the search results links:
-- https://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_ylo=2018&q=peth+alcohol+test+false+positive&hl=en&as_sdt=1,24&as_vis=1

Hoping you find some answers...



Please get this article in front of someone at the monitoring program: Viel et al. Int J Biochem (2012). The article shows that PEth levels are markedly elevated in inflammatory conditions where Protein Kinase C-alpha (PKC-a) enzymes are overactive. MS, for example, is one such condition.

PKC-a preferentially phosphorylates the amino acid, threonine. Threonine contains an ethanol component or “moiety.” Is it not possible that phosphorylation of amino acids that contain ethanol could produce something that at least looks or acts like PEth? I think it’s very possible if not likely.

I’ve raised this issue with the principal marketer of the PEth test. No response. I think these folks are making bank on a shockingly poorly vetted test. They have no clue as to what can potentially affect these results....biochemistry is complicated! And remember this test is not FDA-approved....precisely because so little is known about it.


Hello, @oledocfarmer -- I wanted to welcome you to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and information about the PEth test.

I noted your username and wondered if you are both a doctor and a farmer? Do you have any current medical conditions that have brought you to this online community?


I have three negative PEth tests and two positive PEth tests, all with no alcohol consumed. There is a high risk of me losing custody of my kids due to the positives, but my family doctor offered no help. Keep this blog going!


I have three negative PEth tests and two positive PEth tests, all with no alcohol consumed. There is a high risk of me losing custody of my kids due to the positives, but my family doctor offered no help. Keep this blog going!

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Hello @fairlaneowner -- welcome to Mayo Connect. We are glad you found us. I'm sorry to hear about the risk of losing custody of your children due to PEth tests false positives. The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the testing and be a strong advocate for yourself. Here are a few more links I've found that point out the problems with the current PEth testing:

Against the Rising Tide: Looking for Biostatisticians and Epidemiologists to help shape Drug-Testing Policy to be more Evidence-Based
-- https://disruptedphysician.com/2014/12/01/against-the-rising-tide-looking-for-biostatisticians-and-epidemiologists-to-help-shape-drug-testing-policy-to-be-more-evidence-based/

ETG/ETS – A Physician Criticizes the Tests and Lack of FDA Oversight (law firm website)
-- http://www.rockindlaw.com/etgets-a-physician-criticizes-the-tests-and-lack-of-fda-oversight/

Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/) is a good tool to search for information and the results can be sorted to get the newest/latest information.


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