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James Bond's dirty little spy secret: He's an alcoholic

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FRIDAY, Dec. 13, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Iconic spy character James Bond drinks so much and so often that in real life he'd be incapable of chasing down villains or wooing sexy vamps, a new study contends.

"The level of functioning as displayed in the books is inconsistent with the physical, mental and indeed sexual functioning expected from someone drinking this much alcohol," wrote a team led by Dr. Patrick Davies, of Nottingham University Hospitals, in England.

His team analyzed the famous spy's alcohol consumption and found that it was more than four times higher than the recommended intake for an adult male.

This puts Bond at high risk for several alcohol-related diseases -- including alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, impotence and alcohol-induced tremor -- and an early death.

The alcohol-induced tremor may explain why Bond prefers his martinis "shaken, not stirred," the study authors joked. They added that the alcoholism-induced tremor in his hands means he's unlikely to be able to stir his drinks, even if he wants to.

Davies' group launched the study because they were struck by the fact that the amount of Bond's drinking in the original books seemed rather high. They wondered if he could actually carry out his missions and woo so many women at this level of drinking.

Based on a thorough reading of all of the books, the study authors concluded that Bond's average alcohol consumption was 92 units per week -- over four times the recommended amount. This figure excludes days when Bond was unable to drink.

A unit of alcohol is about 10 milliliters of pure alcohol -- about the same amount found in the average glass of scotch, bourbon or other hard liquor.

The spy's maximum daily alcohol intake was almost 50 units per day and he had only 12.5 alcohol-free days out of the 87.5 days he was able to drink, according to the findings in the Christmas edition of the journal BMJ.

Bond might even be a road hazard, since he frequently drank enough to put him over the legal limit before he climbed into his car.

Many studies have shown that people generally underestimate their alcohol consumption by about 30 percent, which means that Bond's alcohol consumption may be as high as 130 units per week, the study authors said.

It's clear that 007 needs help, the authors said. "We advise an immediate referral for further assessment and treatment [and] a reduction in alcohol consumption to safe levels," they concluded.

They also noted that excessive drinking is a global health problem that causes 2.5 million deaths a year. However, movies and other sources of entertainment often portray drinking in a positive, even glamorous, way.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about alcohol and your health.

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