The effects of a month of binge drinking

Downing 516 units of alcohol in 30 days for an
experiment ruined her skin and made her look 10 years
By Steve Bloomfield 
Published: 18 December 2005

Nicky Taylor was an ordinary drinker. She never had
more than two glasses of white wine a night and rarely
exceeded the weekly recommended limit of 14 units. 

But in a remarkable experiment, the 40-year-old
mother-of-three increased her alcohol intake ten-fold.
She went out with a group of twentysomething women
five nights a week for a whole month to see first-hand
what binge drinking can do to the body. Ms Taylor
matched the women drink for drink as they downed
shots, alcopops and pints in pubs and clubs around the

In total she drank 516 units in a month. The results
were dizzying. Her body fat increased from 37.4 per
cent to 38.9 per cent. She put on more than half a
stone in weight, going from a size 12 to size 14.

Most disturbingly, the month-long binge has aged her
skin so much that she now has the complexion of
someone aged 50. "I cannot believe how bad it all
got," said Ms Taylor. "By the end of it I felt

The experiment - reminiscent of the American
film-maker Morgan Spurlock eating nothing but
McDonald's for 30 days for his film Super Size Me -
will be shown in a BBC documentary, which will be
aired on 12 January.

Ms Taylor was regularly downing twice the Government's
recommended weekly limit - in a single night. She
drank eight mojito cocktails, five glasses of wine,
three bottles of beer, two vodka and oranges, a bottle
of Smirnoff Ice and a Slippery Nipple cocktail - a
total of 28 units. Women are supposed to drink no more
than two or three units a day - and a maximum of 14 in
a week.

"At first I found it difficult to drink so much, she
said, "but the more I drank the easier it was. My
tolerance levels shot up - I can really down it now. A
couple of glasses of wine used to get me a bit tipsy.
Now I have longer staying power."

According to a recent study by Bupa, one-quarter of
adults are binge drinkers. One of Britain's leading
liver specialists, Professor Ian Gilmore, last month
told The Independent on Sunday that Britain's binge
drinking has become so bad that cirrhosis is
commonplace among women in their late twenties.

Ms Taylor's liver was no worse at the end of the
30-day experiment. Doctors told her she would have to
continue bingeing for a further five months to do
lasting damage. But the experiment took its toll on
her health.

"My skin became extremely dry. I lost my jaw line. It
became saggy and very unattractive. I developed
chipmunk cheeks, which is just horrible, and put on
8lbs in weight - I was drinking the equivalent of
about 2,000 calories a night.

"I was warned that if I carried on I would get central
obesity - a big tyre round my stomach. It happened. I
was enormous - I had to go back to really big clothes.

"Towards the end I got quite depressed. I quite
enjoyed going out in the first week, but then it
really got me tired. Drink drains you completely. I
found I had to sleep during the day to recharge

At no stage did Ms Taylor struggle to find somewhere
to drink or someone who would serve her. "I could buy
twice the weekly limit for less than 20," she said.
"I am amazed at how cheap it is and how available. It
runs completely against what the World Health
Organisation says. We have to limit availability and
put up the prices - that is not what the Government is

Bar staff are supposed not to serve people who are
drunk, but Ms Taylor was never refused a drink, no
matter how under the influence she became. "I got
myself hammered and made it quite obvious - shouting
at bar staff, that sort of thing. I still got served.
Nobody takes any notice of these laws."

The experiment has irrevocably changed the drinking
habits of a woman who used to drink two glasses of
white wine a night.

"When I look at a bottle of Chardonnay now, I think to
myself it is a drug - as bad as a cigarette," she
said. "It is almost like we are kidding ourselves that
it is not really a drug. Because of that whole
attitude, it does not invoke any fear. Everyone is
doing it. Politicians are doing it. No one wants to
say alcohol does you no good whatsoever.

"Of course I still drink - I am not going to stop. But
I will not drink every night now. I have cut down

On The Town: What Nicky drank

"I normally drink two glasses of white wine in the
evening to wind down. I rarely get drunk. My challenge
was to match the girls drink for drink. Whatever they
had, I had.

"I love good wine but they didn't really drink wine -
that is what made it so disgusting. Some of the
alcopops are horrible. They are so sugary and sweet.
If it was 'let's binge drink on three bottles of
gorgeous wine' it might have been easier.

"I was drinking the equivalent of about 2,000 calories
a night. A Smirnoff Ice has more than 200 calories in
it and I was often drinking about seven or eight a
night. It is no surprise that I put on more than half
a stone.

"On one of the first nights I drank a couple of
tequilas, two vodka tonics, pint of cider, an apple
Schnapps shot, a Slippery Nipple cocktail, a Malibu
and pineapple, three bottles of WKD - an alcopop - and
a mojito cocktail.

"The next night I had eight mojitos, five glasses of
wine, three bottles of beer, two vodka and oranges, a
bottle of Smirnoff Ice and another Slippery Nipple.
This became a normal night."

'Mischief: Binge Drinker' is on BBC3 on Thursday, 12


Back To Islam Awareness Homepage

Latest News about Islam and Muslims

Contact for further information