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Novartis Found Symp. 1998;216:208-17; discussion 217-22, 152-8.

The French paradox and wine drinking.

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  • 1INSERM (Institut National pour la Santé et al Recherche Médicale), Unit 330, Université Bordeaux 2, France.


Despite a high level of risk factors such as cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and a high intake of saturated fat, French males display the lowest mortality rate from ischaemic heart disease and cardiovascular diseases in Western industrialized nations (36% lower than the USA and 39% lower than the UK). By contrast, mortality from all causes is only 8% lower than in the USA and 6% than in the UK, owing to a high level of cancer and violent deaths. In a recent study of 34,000 middle-aged men from Eastern France with a follow-up of 12 years we have observed that for 48 g of alcohol (mostly wine) per day as the mean intake, mortality from cardiovascular diseases was lower by 30%, all-cause mortality was reduced by 20%, but mortality by cancer and violent death was increased compared with abstainers. Thus the so-called 'French Paradox' (a low mortality rate specifically from cardiovascular diseases) may be due mainly to the regular consumption of wine.

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