Dec. 14, 2010 at 7:03 PM ET
There are a lot of ways to get drunk (especially this time of year), but according to new research published in the British Medical Journal, soaking your feet in booze is not one of them.
Still, foot drinking (sole sipping?) is a popular urban myth widely circulated in Denmark -- and elsewhere (search “drunk,” “soaking your feet” and “alcohol” and you'll get more than 17,000 hits). So much so that Danish researchers decided it was high time to put an end to it with a little scientific investigation.
They chose two men and a woman in their 30s -- all of whom were healthy with no history of alcoholism or liver disease -- and asked them to abstain from alcohol for 24 hours (and loofah their feet). On the day of the experiment, they performed blood alcohol tests on all three subjects, then had the trio submerge their feet in a washbowl containing three 700 mL bottles of Karloff vodka, each carrying an alcohol content of 37.5% by volume.
And there they sat for three hours, or as the researchers put it, “a time frame corresponding to a medium-length visit to the local pub.”
Every half hour, researchers tested the volunteers’ blood for any change in the alcohol level. They also asked them to self-assess for any intoxication-related symptoms by scoring on a scale of zero to 10 their self-confidence, their urge to speak and their desire for “spontaneous hugs.” (They refrained from testing a desire to grab the person next to them and blubber “I love you, man.”)
Not surprisingly, results showed that “transcutaneous intake of alcohol through feet is not possible … we conclude that the Danish urban myth about being able to get drunk by submerging feet in strong alcoholic beverage is just that – a myth.”
Interestingly, foot drinking isn’t the only weird myth out there involving alcohol.
Students in Europe and the U.S. have also embraced “vodka eyeballing,” i.e., pouring shots of vodka directly into their eyeballs as a way to get drunk quickly without booze breath or stomach upset. Others are supposedly inserting tampons soaked with vodka into their vagina -- or elsewhere (and here we thought that was just a "30 Rock" punchline).
While no studies have been performed as to whether eyeball shots actually get you drunk faster, ophthalmologists warn the practice can result in burning, swollen, red eyes and possible damage to the optic nerve, which can result in permanent vision problems. As for soaking a tampon in 40-proof alcohol and inserting it into the most sensitive part of your body, we imagine if people are doing this, they’re only doing it once.