OTTAWA (Reuters) - Comic book hero Tintin never aged during his 50-year career because the repeated blows he took to the head triggered a growth hormone deficiency, according to an analysis in the Christmas edition of a Canadian medical journal.
Claude Cyr, a professor of medicine at Quebec's Sherbrooke University, said a study of the 23 hugely popular Tintin books showed the intrepid Belgian reporter suffered 50 significant losses of consciousness during his many adventures.
"We hypothesize that Tintin has growth hormone deficiency and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (a disorder of the pituitary gland) from repeated trauma. This could explain his delayed statural growth, delayed onset of puberty and lack of libido," Cyr wrote.
His article was in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which has a tradition of publishing studies into the ailments of fictional characters in its Christmas edition.
Tintin was created by Belgium's Georges Remi under the pen name Herge. The teenage character first appeared in 1929 and despite the passing of almost five decades was as fresh-faced as ever in the pages of the last book to feature him, which appeared in 1976.
Cyr, who wrote the study with the help of his two young sons, noted that Tintin had been knocked out 43 times by serious blows to the head.
"We identified the cause of the trauma, the length of loss of consciousness (calculated by the number of cartoon frames before Tintin returns to normal activity) and the apparent severity of the trauma (indicated by the number of objects e.g., stars, candles revolving above Tintin's head)," he said.
Among the main reasons for Tintin's injuries were blows from a club, bullet wounds, explosions, car accidents, chloroform poisoning and falls.
"Unfortunately, no brain imaging was performed," Cyr lamented.
Tintin traveled all over the world with his white terrier Snowy as he battled foes as varied as drug dealers, Incan priests, slave traders and the Abominable Snowman. The books have been translated into 60 languages and have sold 200 million copies.
In 2000 the Canadian Medical Association Journal caused something of an uproar by revealing that Winnie the Pooh's continuous search for honey was caused by obsessive compulsive disorder, Piglet needed anti-panic medication, while Eeyore was massively depressed.
Another study surmised that Beatrix Potter's ever energetic Squirrel Nutkin character was in fact autistic.