'Drinking mirror' shows aging effects of alcohol

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
By Lisa Flam

If you regularly enjoy cocktail hour and could peek into the future, would you like what you saw in the mirror?

“Drinking Mirror,” a new online program and mobile app from the Scottish government, lets drinkers upload their photo, plug in their weekly alcohol consumption and receive a computer-generated image of the potential toll regular drinking could take on their appearance. It doesn’t require or use any personal data.

The results, which may include weight gain, deeper wrinkles and red cheeks, do not always make for a pretty picture.

“That’s horrible,” one woman said, holding a tablet computer with her “Drinking Mirror” reflection near her face.

The hope is that the appeal to vanity will encourage women to more closely watch their drinking.

It comes amid new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show almost 14 million American women, or one out of eight, are binge drinking three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per binge.

Binge drinking, defined for women as consuming at least four drinks per sitting, can increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy and other problems, the CDC says.

“Binge drinking leads to problems with your body and your brain and really self-harming behaviors that can lead to addictive behaviors,” intervention specialist Brad Lamm told TODAY.

U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that women have no more than one drink per day, two for men, according to the CDC binge drinking page.

Lamm says the online program, which does not consider the medical consequences of drinking, could be a valuable tool.

But a group of women out for drinks in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., weren’t sold.

“I just don’t take it seriously,” one told TODAY. “How can it take into effect your genes, other things that you do in life, how much you work out, how much you don’t work out?”


Miss America contestant pursuing double mastectomy

Video: Most likely to binge drink: Young women

Parents have the power to prevent teen binge drinking