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Friday, August 31, 2012


My posting yesterday on DIACETYL and connection to Alzheimer's drew a wide range of personal responses.  Again, though, there were no comments to the blog site itself.

Anyway, one colleague sent me an article indicating that the French Paradox, in that they eat a lot of butter and fatty foods but remain healthy, can be refuted by fact.  A Guardian article indicated, for example, that French men had the highest cancer rate of Europeans because they drank and smoked too much.  However, that information is now a decade old, so I decided to do some research.

The country did take steps against smoking, now excessively taxing tobacco products, such that consumption/capita has dropped by more than a factor of two in twenty years.  For example, in cigarettes per adult per year:

#1       Greece          3017
#12     Japan            2028
#39     U.S.              1196
#60     France            876
#89     Singapore       406
#121   Ethiopia            52

#1       Monaco          90
#5       Japan             82
#11     France            82
#51     U.S.               78
#100   Samoa-U.S.    74
#200   Niger              53
#223   Swaziland       32

Well, the French smoke less than Americans, and that 4:1 ratio of butter consumption referenced the year 2002, and I'm not into that much R&D to find that comparison today.  But their life expectancy is much better than the USA, and there is little doubt that they consume a lot more butter/person in France, and yet, have a much higher life expectancy.  The latest data shows that the French eat three times more saturated fat than Americans.  However, the French eat less, and more slowly, where two hour lunches are common.  Eating out in the the U.S. is eating too much, as servings are 25% larger than in France, and there aren't all that many eat to the max places there, plus even McDonald's, known as "MacDo," is "different."  You can comfortably sit for, yes, two hours, enjoying your meal.  

But why are the French still relatively thin, while, Americans have become obese:

Adult obesity prevalence, latest available data

Thus, only 11.2% of French are obese, while 35.7% of Americans are.  However, we are not the fattest, being #8 to seven Pacific island nations.  It's so obvious that, when I traveled through Polynesia a few years ago, airline staff passed out seat belt extensions on entry into the plane.

Okay, but back to that French Paradox.  First, those on the Mediterranean diet, where non-saturated fats are featured, had a 70% lower rate of SECOND heart attacks than the saturated fat regimen of France.  So placing all the above into a pot and stirring, it appears that red wine and  resveratrol, a polyphenol, might well be the key to health.  Perhaps resveratrol (this is not mentioned in any study) has a way of neutralizing diacetyl in the process of fermentation.  I don't know.  Marcelle Pick, a gynecologist, in the Huffington Post, provides her opinion regarding the French Paradox:

1.  Food there looks more attractive.  (Which should mean that people would eat more, which makes no sense.)

2.  They walk a lot because gas is so expensive.  (This could be the key.)

3.  Lunch is two hours long.  (I would think this should lead to eating more.)

4.  They have more vacation time.  (But I tend to gain weight when on trips.)

5.  There is less stress there. (I guess this means people under stress eat more.)

6.  The secret of being thin and healthy is to slow down and appreciate life a little more.  (Can't imagine how this would explain the French Paradox.)

Now that Hurricane Isaac is reduced to dumping a lot rain on Arkansas today, there is also 105 MPH Hurricane Eric in the mid-Atlantic.  But, it's heading for....Ireland!  Tropical Storm Leslie at 65 MPH is taking the more traditional track just north of the Caribbean, and will soon become a hurricane, but  will then move north and avoid the East Coast.  In the west Pacific, there is Hurricane Ileana at 75 MPH moving toward Hawaii, but she will soon dissipate.

Oh, let me finally add that tonight will  be our final blue moon until July of 2015.  However, the moon will not be blue.  This is a term applied to two full moons in one month.  This happens around every three years.  However, there will be two blue moons in 2018.  I woke up this morning to a moonset over Honolulu:

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