After 25 movies in 59 years, it’s time for James Bond to make an appointment with a doctor. After all, surely a lifetime of dodging bullets, fighting villains, jumping off buildings and regularly drinking more cocktails than a Blackpool hen night cannot be good for you?
We asked Carl Heneghan – a GP and professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford – to sit Bond down for his check-up.
The name’s injury, head injury
James Bond has been knocked unconscious from hits to the head 14 times throughout his career. “These are serious head traumas that will affect brain function,” says Heneghan. “In the long term we’re talking chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that plagues contact sports like American football.”
Symptoms could include early onset dementia, anxiety, depression and impaired judgment. “You could say, in terms of the films, some of those are already there. Especially the impulse control problems.”
Shaken, also slurred
In a study published in 2018 by The Medical Journal Of Australia, it was calculated that over the course of 24 movies Bond was observed drinking 109 times, averaging 4.5 drinks per movie.
“Long-term alcohol consumption will eventually lead to a process called fatty liver disease, and eventually cirrhosis,” says Heneghan.
STI another day
Over the course of 25 films, James Bond has slept with around 57 women. This isn’t a problem within itself, of course. But when was the last time you saw Bond pause a romantic scene to sort out, ahem, protection?
“His risks are going through the roof in terms of sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea or chlamydia,” says Heneghan. “In the long term, Bond may have problems with sterility and inflammatory disease, and if left untreated that inflammation could give him a heightened risk of cancer.”
During his time in the field, Bond has dodged at least 4,662 bullets. However, he was hit in Skyfall, where he is shot first in the shoulder, then in the chest and sent plummeting to a river far below.
“If a bullet misses all the major organs and arteries, you can survive it,” says Heneghan. But I would say it would take at least a year to get back to normal afterwards.”
One of Casino Royale’s most punishing scenes sees Bond poisoned by digitalis, which can give you a cardiac arrest. But not to worry: thanks to a prompt defibrillation, Her Majesty’s finest spy is resurrected – and returns to a high-stakes poker game minutes later.
“It’s implausible but not impossible that would resuscitate him and he would recover,” says Heneghan. “But the damage to his heart would have been significant. It would take a long time to strengthen his heart muscle, which does not recover like other muscles in the body.”
Verdict: The Dr says no: burdened with a lifetime of critical injuries, Bond is in far from killer shape.
About our expert, Prof Carl Heneghan
Carl is professor of evidence-based medicine at the University of Oxford. He is a clinical epidemiologist with expertise in evidence-based medicine, research methods, and evidence synthesis.
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