Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
The term paradox entered the public health discourse in the late 1980's, when it was observed that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. This stood in apparent contradiction to the widely held belief that the high consumption of such fats is a risk factor for CHD. In 1996, Israeli researchers discovered the apparently paradoxical epidemiological observation that Israeli Jews have a relatively high incidence of CHD, despite having a diet relatively low in saturated fats. Despite this “negative” paradox, an additional and greater paradox can be observed in the Israeli case. Israel has a very high life expectancy, usually in the top 15 nations. This is a paradox when one looks at the CHD data, the security tensions and low investment in medical systems (when compared to other developed nations). The paradox of Israeli men is even sharper; they are usually in the top 5 nations. Some additional factor(s) in the Israeli diet or lifestyle or culture or genetics must be mitigating these risks. Using archival data, this paper will try to examine this paradox.