University of Minnesota

Arthur L. Klatsky, MD


Dr. Klatsky is a pioneer in CVD epidemiology by virtue of his early involvement with prospective studies in the large screening and entry database of the Oakland, CA Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center. He also was the first to denote and explore the J-shaped distribution of myocardial infarction risk versus the number of alcoholic drinks consumed daily in that HMO population.

Klatsky was educated at Yale and Harvard and has spent most of his career at Kaiser, heading its Cardiology division and its coronary care unit for many years. He remains an active researcher as Senior Consultant at the Oakland Center.

As other observations multiplied and confirmed his finding on alcohol and risk, he concluded that the relationship was causal and that alcohol protected from thrombotic CVD events and also reduced death from some cancers. He found subtle relationships of alcohol consumption with hypertension and explored alcohol’s potential mechanisms for CVD protection through blood lipoproteins and hemostatic factors. He also demonstrated that moderate drinkers (particularly California wine drinkers!) were a health-conscious, health-observant group, more likely to be exercisers, non-smoking, more educated, and leaner in build. Nevertheless, the combined evidence, and plausible mechanisms, absent infeasible experiments of alcohol effects, led him to declare: “Abstinence can be hazardous to some person’s health,” perhaps the “Klatsky Paradox.” (HB)


Henry Blackburn

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