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In the News: Amy Winehouse’s Brother Claims “What Really Killed Her Was the Bulimia”


In an interview with The Guardian, Amy Winehouse’s brother, Alex Winehouse,  says that  it was an eating disorder that killed her, rather than the drugs and alcohol.

When the pop singer died on July 23, 2011, the coroner discovered that she had more than five times the legal drunk-drive limit of alcohol in her system.

However, her older brother, in his first ever full length interview, has now told The Observer that he blames his sister’s long battle with bulimia, which she developed aged 17, for leaving her “weaker and more susceptible”.

“She suffered from bulimia very badly. That’s not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… Absolutely terrible.”  Alex says.

Her friends, Alex claims, “were all doing it. They’d put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really did… We all knew she was doing it, but it’s almost impossible [to tackle] especially if you’re not talking about it. It’s a real dark, dark issue.”

The link between eating disorders and substance abuse has been very well established by experts. Some estimate that up to one half of people with eating disorders also abuse substances, compared to nine percent of the general population. Conversely, up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders compared to three percent of the general population.

The Amy Winehouse Foundation has recently donated money to an eating disorder charity called “Beat” to help fund an internet forum.

The interview with Alex Winehouse was given to mark the opening of a major new exhibition at the Jewish Museum entitled Amy Winehouse: a Family Portrait.

In pop culture, the name Amy Winehouse has become synonymous with both talent and tragedy. The singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab”, while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award. The singer also earned a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act.

Unfortunately, there was a darker side to the Amy Winehouse story. A trail of disturbing media stories and paparazzo images tracked her painful disintegration. Photos appeared of her on London streets, tear-stained and with bleeding feet, or with badly bruised legs. Her drink and drug abuse was well-documented. Scars on her arms were often visible, from a period of self-harm and cutting in her teens. She was in and out of rehab. Then in 2011, just three years shy of her 30th birthday, she died after an alcohol binge.

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