Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 27, 2021
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Shaking, not sober

In the Christmas 2013 issue of the British Medical Journal, Drs Graham Johnson, Indra Neil Guha and Patrick Davies conducted an extensive literature review in order to answer a pressing question: was James Bond a lush?

The results for the fictional spy aren’t encouraging. Counting every drink Bond took in the original book series written by Sir Ian Fleming, the authors concluded that Bond drank on average 92 units a week — one unit is equivalent to 10 millilitres of pure ethanol, or a 25 millilitre serving of spirits — which is over four times the recommended British maximum, and about 3.5 times the recommended Canadian amount.

In retrospect, the signs of overconsumption were evident. It seems Bond’s requests for his martinis to be “shaken, not stirred” had less to do with having a classic catchphrase than with his suffering from alcoholic tremors. In Casino Royale, before we find Commander Bond crashing his car during a high-speed chase, he had suspiciously drunk 39 units of alcohol.

At risk of liver cirrhosis, hypertension and more, Bond’s life expectancy was 56 — the age at which Fleming, himself no saint, died. The authors drafted the study to point out that though Bond is admired for his physical, sexual and mental prowess, in reality his boozing would have had him underperforming in all aspects of his life. To any young male admirers of the legendary Cold Warrior, the authors have an additional warning: Bond was at “high risk of suffering from sexual dysfunction, which would considerably affect his womanising.”

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