Statins to go with your Big Mac and soda?

August 17, 2010 by  

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“A double cheeseburger with an extra portion of statins as topping, please.”  No, this is not a joke. A group of British cardiologist think it should be work.

Perhaps based on the principle “if you can’t beat them, join them”, these group of scientists suggest that if customers refuse to give up on the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King, the statins should be taken to the burger chains where they could be “…found alongside the salt, sugar, ketchup, and mayonnaise… sprinkled atop customers’ Quarter Pounders, into their milkshakes, or onto their supersized French fries to offset the mounds of fat found in these unhealthy meals.”

Dubbed the McStatin strategy, some experts call it “radical”, others “mischievous”. Others were just plain shocked.

However, these cardiologists defend their rather unconventional strategy with logic: If you consumers can have as much unhealthy add-ons to their meals as they want – mayonnaise, ketchup, sugar, etc – free of charge – why can’t a “potentially protective” additive such as statins be offered? In other words, offer the good stuff together with the bad stuff to neutralize the latter.

Can statins, delivered via the fast food way, really work in cardiovascular disease prevention?

The cardiologists conducted a study to prove their point. They investigated whether eating an unhealthy fast food meal can be “neutralized” by taking a statin by comparing “the increase in the relative risk of cardiovascular disease associated with the meal’s total- and trans-fat content with the reduction in relative risk observed from a recent meta-analysis of seven primary-prevention statin trials.”

The results showed that most of the recommended primary prevention regimens using statins do work in offsetting “the increased risk caused by eating a Quarter Pounder, which contains 19 g of total fat and 1 g of trans fat, or by eating a Quarter Pounder with cheese and drinking a small milkshake, an unhealthy combination that contains 36 g of total fat and 2.5 g of trans fat.”

But hey, is it safe to take statins like we take ketchup, without doctor supervision?

Senior author Dr. Darrel Francis of the Imperial College London replied:

“…but if patients need to see a doctor before they take a statin, then how come they don’t need medical advice to eat a hamburger?”

At lower doses, some statins are available over the counter but prescription is necessary for higher doses prescribed to high-risk patients.

Some experts think the McStatin strategy is counterproductive. Opponents of the strategy believe that putting statins in fast food would actually encourage people to eat more fast food and bigger portions, thus undermining lifestyle intervention campaigns that include a healthy diet.

Besides, an unhealthy diet does not only affect cholesterol levels. Cholesterol problems maybe “neutralized” by statins what about the bad effects on blood pressure, weight, and heart rhythm? Would we soon be taking a cocktail of drugs with our burgers to neutralize all these too?

According to Dr Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard School of Public Health:

“The last reason that the approach doesn’t make a lot of sense to me is that we wouldn’t want to do something good and then do something bad and get a neutral result,” he added “We want to maximize the good. If somebody needs to take a statin, and they benefit from a statin and are compliant with that statin, then they should take the drug and gain the benefit. They should also gain the benefit from a healthy diet. Why would you not want to do both?”

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