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‘French paradox’ professor dies

The French professor credited with identifying the French Paradox has died, aged 84.

Serge Renaud: first noticed French Paradox

Professor Serge Renaud
, who first noticed the paradoxical fact that there is a lower risk of heart disease in France, where the diet is high in saturated fats, died near his home in the Médoc, Bordeaux, on 28 October, just weeks short of his 85th birthday.

Renaud was renowned for his research on diet and disease, particularly on the benefits of the so-called Mediterranean Diet.

But he will perhaps be best remembered for his theory on the French Paradox, namely France’s ability to combine a diet rich in saturated fats with relatively low rates of coronary heart disease.

On a US television show in 1991, Renaud’s comments led host Morley Safer to declare red wine as the missing link. ‘The explanation of the French Paradox may lie in this inviting glass,’ Safer told the camera.

Renaud’s work inspired a raft of studies linking compounds in red wine to lower cardiovascular disease risk.

‘If I hadn’t lived with my grandparents and great-grandparents on a vineyard near Bordeaux, perhaps this idea wouldn’t have occurred to me,’ Renaud was quoted as telling Bruno Simini, of medical journal The Lancet in 2000.

‘People around the world have profited, and will continue to profit, from the lifelong scientific work of Serge Renaud,’ the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research said in a tribute.

Renaud was born in Cartelègue, in France’s Haute-Gironde region. He lived in both Montreal, Canada, and Boston, US, before returning to France in 1973 as a director of public medical research in Lyon.

Written by Chris Mercer

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