I heard that one shouldn't drink alcohol or coke right after eating durian, because this will cause death.
Is this true?
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No, it's not lethal. It will however make your hangover worse:
The scientific basis of the adverse, or at times lethal, effect of ingesting durian (Durio zibethinus Murray) while imbibing alcohol has not been established. Symptoms are reminiscent of the disulfiram–ethanol reaction (DER) arising from the inhibition of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH). Cognizant of the inhibitory effect of sulphur compounds like disulfiram on ALDH and the rich sulphur content of durian, the influence of durian fruit extract on the ALDH-mediated oxidative metabolism of acetaldehyde was investigated. We report a dose-dependent inhibition of yeast ALDH (yALDH), at most 70% at 0.33 ppm (mg extract/l assay mix), by dichloromethane:pentane extracts. Sulphur-rich TLC fruit extract fractions that eluted farthest from the origin effected the greatest inhibitory action. yALDH assay using diethyl disulfide as internal standard further supports the role of durian’s sulfury constituents in the fruit’s ALDH-inhibiting property. Insight into the etiology of DER-like symptoms felt upon simultaneous durian and alcohol consumption is hereby presented.
It mentioned rumours from 1923 that durian and alcohol were dangerous, and a case report in 1941 of acute haemorrhagic pancreatitis after the consumption of Durian and alcohol. [Be careful of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies.] It also mentioned anecdotes of contemporaries who had consumed it and were fine, apart from one with discomfort from indigestion.
The authors studied a couple of hundred mice (not humans!), and looked at the effect of durian, alcohol and the combination of durian and alcohol on and alcohol on
The present findings therefore do not indicated any basis for the belief that ill effects in the form of toxicity or deaths, can occur when alcohol is taken with durian. The possibility of durian potentiating the effects of alcohol also appears remote. It should, however, be remembered that these deductions have been made from experiments on small animals using purified alcohol.
[Note: This answer started as an edit to an existing answer, but changed the conclusion beyond the other answerer's original intention, so I split it into a separate answer.]
The passage below is from Ho and Bhat (2015), "Exploring the potential nutraceutical values of durian (Durio zibethinus L.) – An exotic tropical fruit", Food Chemistry (link). ("This is the first detailed review on durian, an exotic tropical fruit.")
My interpretation: The durian-alcohol link is possible; more research is needed.
A combination of consuming durian fruit and alcohol drinks is reported to lead adverse effects in humans (Maninang, Lizada, & Gemma, 2009). Earlier, Croft (1981) reported on patients consuming durian and drinking alcohol simultaneously, which included deaths as well as cardiac arrest episodes. The symptoms included clinical manifestations such as: palpitation, vomiting, facial flushing, nausea, and drowsiness. In addition, physiological effects of drinking alcohol might also have major contribution on health effects. According to Kitson and Weiner (1996), component derived from ethanol is oxidised in liver by the action of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzyme. Disulfiram can retard ALDH activity resulting in the accumulation of alcohol-derived acetaldehyde. According to some researchers (Brien & Loomis, 1985), acetaldehyde contributes to the adverse reactions known as the disulfiram-ethanol reaction (DER). The inhibitory activities of sulphur-containing compounds obtained from natural resources on ALDH are well known (Kitson & Weiner, 1996). Several studies have shown durian to be abundant in sulphur compounds (Baldry et al., 1972; Moser et al., 1980; Voon et al., 2007b; Weenen et al., 1996; Wong & Tie, 1995).
Sub-chronic and acute toxicity examinations (through oral feeding) in rats and mice fed diets containing polysaccharide gel isolated from durian rind showed no toxic effects (Pongsamart, Sukrong, & Tawatsin, 2001; Pongsamart, Tawatsin, & Sukrong, 2002). Maninang et al. (2009) evaluated the effects of durian fruit extract on the inhibition of ALDH. The enzymatic assay demonstrated that yeast aldehyde dehydrogenase (yALDH) significantly lost enzymatic activity in the presence of durian fruit extract at all the tested concentrations (0.03, 0.07, 0.16, 0.33, 0.65, and 1.63 ppm). The intensity of inhibition increased with increase in the fruit extract concentration and was up to a maximum of 70% at 0.33 ppm extract. However, the inhibitory effect was observed to be low at the highest concentration (1.63 ppm) of the tested fruit extract. The non-polar organic constituents of the durian fruit extract gave positive results in the sulphur-test elicited significant inhibitory effects on yALDH. In addition, several studies reported that the diethyl disulphide to be the most abundant sulphur compound which contains a disulphide bridge in durian (Laohakunjit, Kerdchoechuen, Matta, Silva, & Holmes, 2007; Voon et al., 2007a). As the sulphur content of durian is reported to have inhibitory characteristic on ALDH activity and can be mortal in person who consume durian and drink alcohol simultaneously, further in vivo studies are warranted to provide more scientific evidence for better understanding to the consumers.
Singapore medical journal says that it's unlikely to have any bad effects when testing the effects of Durian in alcohol and the effect of Durian followed by alcohol.
The present findings therefore do not indicate any basis for the ill effects in the form of toxicity or deaths can occur when alcohol is taken with durian. Source: Singapore Medical Journal.