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Would you like statins with that burger?

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January 27, 2011

Should cholesterol reducing drugs be served with fast food? (Photo: Suat Eman via freedigi...

Should cholesterol reducing drugs be served with fast food? (Photo: Suat Eman via freedigitalphotos.net)

A study from researchers at Imperial College London seriously suggests that it may be wise for fast food outlets to provide statin drugs free of charge with the condiments, so that customers can neutralize the heart disease dangers of fatty food. Statins are a class of drugs that can reduce the amount of "LDL" cholesterol in the blood. Some data suggests that this reduction is accompanied by a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke.

Dr Darrel Francis and colleagues state in their paper published in the American Journal of Cardiology, that the reduction in cardiovascular risk offered by a statin would be enough to offset the increase in heart attack risk from eating a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

Dr Francis, who is from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, is the senior author of the study.

"Statins don't cut out all of the unhealthy effects of burgers and fries," said Dr Francis. "It's better to avoid fatty food altogether. But we've worked out that in terms of your likelihood of having a heart attack, taking a statin can reduce your risk to more or less the same degree as a fast food meal increases it."

Simvastatin, one of this popular class of drugs, is already available in the UK at low doses (10mg) without a prescription, over the counter at pharmacies. Other statins are, so far, only available by prescription due, in part, because of possible side effects and drug interactions which must be assessed prior to use. However, the cost of these drugs has fallen sharply in recent years from approximately £40 (US$60) per month to around £1.50 (US$2.50) per month in the UK.

"It's ironic that people are free to take as many unhealthy condiments in fast food outlets as they like, but statins, which are beneficial to heart health, have to be prescribed," said Dr Francis. “Everybody knows that fast food is bad for you, but people continue to eat it because it tastes good. We're genetically programmed to prefer high-calorie foods, and sadly fast food chains will continue to sell unhealthy foods because it earns them a living.”

The National Heart and Lung Institute researchers note that studies need to be conducted to assess the potential risks of allowing people to take statins freely, without medical supervision or prescription. They further recommend a warning on packets of the drug emphasizing that no tablet can substitute for a healthy diet, and advising people to consult their doctor for dietary advice.

“Statins have among the best safety profiles of any medication” according to the Imperial College release, but a review of several papers on statins suggest this is not quite true. At the very least the suggestion that statins should be freely available, and so possibly ingested by those who’s blood lipid profiles would not be improved by their use, with the possible and sometimes serious side effects that accompany their use, is pretty questionable public health policy.

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12 Comments

Please tell me every one knows this is SO WRONG!

mrhuckfin
27th January, 2011 @ 08:11 pm PST

That last paragraph needed to be expanded on and emphasized...and at least located in the middle of the article.

Racqia Dvorak
28th January, 2011 @ 04:57 am PST

And would you like some chemotherapy with your cigarettes?

David Alden
28th January, 2011 @ 05:27 am PST

Our society is SO bizarre. If the option of eating less is off the table (probably because there's no room on the table, given the increase in portion size), how about adding healthy natural condiment instead of pharmaceuticals? Virtually all nuts, even peanuts, have statin-like properties. How about serving a small handful of nuts with that burger? Maybe even formulating burgers with some ground nuts in the mix?

A nutty idea? Of course!

Loving It All
28th January, 2011 @ 06:02 am PST

Get real! This is about the sickest article I've ever read on Gizmag. Increase the drugs in your system so that you can continue eating unhealthily? Total madness.

In the US, the number of ads for the drug cartels is increasing dramatically. (I've noticed, too, that the time taken on the commercials to list all the contraindications of a drug - up to and including death - has now increased to almost 2/3s of the ad!) Interestingly, so are the ads for attorneys seeking clients who have been seriously damaged or killed by some "safe" drug. Unless in a life threatening situation or continuing pain, the body is heavily damaged by drug use, as is the brain. Humans were not designed for drug use, despite what the medical industry would like to convince us!

TheRogue1000
28th January, 2011 @ 06:58 am PST

That's just funny. Unless someone takes it seriously.

Daniel Vulikh
28th January, 2011 @ 08:29 am PST

Thank goodness for the last paragraph! Otherwise, the proposal itself is an outrage and a totally arrogant big-Pharma insult! These bastards won't rest until the whole world is popping their poisons.

It is at least heartening (npi) to see the posts.

Swami Poindexter
28th January, 2011 @ 08:29 am PST

1. Statins have side effects. Medical policy wonks see more risks than benefits in giving statins to low risk folks. The liver testing alone would be stunningly expensive.

2. The next problem is the predictive validity of saturated fat and various cholesterol subfractions. If you look at the Stanford A-Z Study, folks on the Atkins diet had twice the positive health markers than other diets.

http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/297/9/969.abstract

http://nutrition.stanford.edu/documents/AZ_press.pdf





3. There may be other things going on. Fast food places may be injecting substances in burgers to keep them moist while they're sitting (did you think that burger was magically cooked in 30 seconds from frozen solid?) and high-heat cooking may be creating HCAs, etc.

4. The best counter-measures may be reviewing the entire process to include the buns. Again, the Stanford data says the high carb bun is causing damage. Then look at the heirloom wheat vice todays wheat research. So, maybe a thinner, 100% whole grain bun with vegetables in it might be healthier (more antioxidants, nutrients, fiber, etc.).

cwolf88
28th January, 2011 @ 08:31 am PST

My health care providers put me on statins and they nearly killed me. I only began to feel better when I changed up my diet. Eat healthy, stay healthy!

YukonJack
28th January, 2011 @ 08:37 am PST

oh shit!

Donnakelli Maddencox
28th January, 2011 @ 11:15 am PST

"Everybody knows fast food is bad'? That would depend on the fast food. Just because it is fast does not mean it is bad. McDonald's offers salads and yogurt drinks as alternatives. Boston Market has rotesarie chicken and vegetable side dishes.

BigGoofyGuy
28th January, 2011 @ 06:01 pm PST

"Dr Orli Etingin, vice chair of medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital, is quoted as saying that atorvastatin, the best-selling drug on the market, "makes women stupid." Etingin told the Journal that 24 of her female patients taking atorvastatin lost the ability to concentrate or recall words. "

Adrian Akau
29th January, 2011 @ 02:49 pm PST
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