The French paradox and wine drinking

Novartis Found Symp. 1998;216:208-17; discussion 217-22, 152-8. doi: 10.1002/9780470515549.ch13.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Wine