Straight, no chaser

A British woman experiments with binge drinking -- and the results aren't pretty.

By Hillary Frey

Published December 27, 2005 2:37PM (EST)

Last week, the BBC online published a funny, first-person piece about the dangers of binge drinking for young women. Reporter Nicky Taylor gave herself over to the pint, and committed herself to going out multiple nights a week over the course of a month to see what would happen if she infected herself with what Tony Blair has called "a new British disease."

Taylor's findings are hardly surprising. At first, after a few drinks, she becomes a bit of an exhibitionist; three weeks in, she writes, "I was running on half-battery." At the end, she's "developed central obesity," and is forced to wear her maternity clothes. Scarier, she'd taken up smoking again, and had also increased her chances of liver disease, cancer and alcohol addiction.

"If you're left thinking that my five-night-a-week binge was extreme," she writes, "remember, it's only what 8.2 million people do in Britain every week." Who knows what the numbers are like for Americans, but everyone could learn a little something from Taylor's essay. At the very least, it will remind you to have a bite to eat before you head out to the bars. When she gives in to the mantra "eatin's cheatin," and restricts herself to "nuts and two packets of crisps" for the night, the results are not pretty.

Hillary Frey

Hillary Frey is the Books editor at Salon.

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