Estate Cabernet Awarded Trophy at the Wine Show of Western Australia
New Installations to Thompson Estate Sculpture Collection
Chapter 2 The French Paradox was controversial but this was just the start.
In my first Chapter in this series, I outlined the background to the “French Paradox”. The paradox that alcohol may have counteracted the ill effects of high fat consumption in France captured the public imagination, but was controversial from the start, and debate among the expert epidemiologists has been brisk.
Early claims were made that that the paradox was not real, and the explanation for the paradox was simply an under-reporting of coronary heart disease by French doctors on death certificates ([i]). Comparison of the official death statistics and the more detailed MONICA coronary heart disease mortality rates showed that this was no more than a slur on the reputation of French medicine. There was no convincing evidence of under-reporting in the national statistics, and this seems very unlikely as the sole explanation. ([ii]) A novel explanation, suggested a time lag effect, that the high fat intake in France was relatively recent phenomenon, and that recent dietary changes would eventually catch up with the French, ([iii]) but follow-up research showed the opposite and cardiovascular mortality rates continue to fall in France.
The French Paradox
It’s no secret that our top of range “The Specialist” wines signal my combined careers as a specialist cardiologist, medical researcher and vigneron. One question I get asked almost daily is “Is wine good for my heart?” The flippant answer is “Yes of course it is, just get the dose right”.
But the question demands more than a brief cellar door chat and opens the door a complex mix of data, controversy and some entrenched positions. Over the coming months I plan to tell the full story, putting aside preconceptions as much as possible and examining the evidence dispassionately in sufficient detail to be accurate but, I hope, still readable and interesting.
The first step is to examine one of the most widely discussed topics – the French Paradox.