Thursday 16 January 2014

I think you've had enough, Mr. Bond

James Bond is likely to be impotent, at high risk of liver disease, and the fact he likes his martini "shaken, not stirred" is because of alcohol-induced tremors.

If you weren't already convinced that a real-life James Bond would be a terrible spy - he tells people his actual name for goodness sake - the article Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? outlines the likely health issues Britain's most famous fictional spy would be suffering in real life due to his outrageous alcoholism.

The researchers read all 14 James Bond books and noted down each time he had a drink, and how much. They also noted when he was unable to drink - for instance, when incarcerated. Not including the days when he was unable to drink, they found his weekly alcohol consumption to be 92 units (standard drinks in Australia - 10 ml of pure alcohol), over four times the recommended amount. His maximum daily consumption was 49.8 units. Out of the 87.5 days he was able to drink, he only had 12.5 alcohol free days.

This type of behaviour is not consistent with his Lothario character, given that his sexual function is likely to be severely impaired by his drinking. It's also not particularly consistent with his ability to shoot straight outside of the bedroom, where sobriety is a necessity to defeat the bad guys. On the other hand, drinking is likely to have decreased his risk aversion, and previous studies have shown that drinking encourages unsafe sex.

But before you become too crushed by the fact that a fictional hero might not actually be scientifically sound, perhaps Bond is smarter than the authors of this report suspect. A 1999 report Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis found that shaken martinis have superior antioxidant activity and this could have decreased his risk of cataracts and cardiovascular disease. There is hope. I don't feel as bad as I did when I discovered that Santa Claus is a fat, diabetic drunk.

Here's Bond in drinking action in Casino Royale.

And here's a handy infographic:

Graham Johnson, Indra Neil Guha & Patrick Davies (2013). Were James Bond’s drinks shaken because of alcohol induced tremor? BMJ DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f7255  

Trevithick CC, Chartrand MM, Wahlman J, Rahman F, Hirst M, & Trevithick JR (1999). Shaken, not stirred: bioanalytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 319 (7225), 1600-2 PMID: 10600955


  1. The real disease is modern societies desire to constantly defame and tear down people's heroes, fictional or not.

    1. There are very real reasons why we shouldn't be glorifying alcoholism.

  2. " ... shaken, not stirred." (then quietly, under his hand) "Yo, just make it a water, I'm on the clock, brah."

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