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Ann Epidemiol. 1997 Oct;7(7):490-7.

Ischemic heart disease and alcohol-related causes of death: a view of the French paradox.

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INSERM U21, Faculté de Médecine Paris-Sud, Villejuif, France.



In France the low rates of death due to ischemic heart disease have been attributed to the high consumption of alcohol. However, the question remains: are the higher death rates for causes associated with alcohol consumption an explanation?


Diseases were defined according to the International Classification of Diseases, revision 9. World Health Organization data on country- and age-specific death rates were used.


Official causes-of-death statistics for men 40-74 years of age show that in 1990 French men under 50 years old had low death rates from ischemic heart disease but a relatively high all-cause mortality rate, in contrast to low rates for men 60 to 74 years of age. Among French men aged 40-44 years in 1960, 34% had died before reaching the age of 70-74 years. In comparison, 37% in the United States and 36% in England and Wales, had died by this age, with 4.5%, 14.1%, and 15.2% of deaths, respectively, due to ischemic heart disease. If all of the men who died early of causes associated with alcohol had died of ischemic heart disease, there would still be a lower rate in France (21%) than in the United States (26%) or in England and Wales (25%).


Thus, although some of the chronic heavy drinkers in France die early of causes associated with excessive alcohol consumption, this is not the only reason for the low ischemic heart disease death rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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