Below is a blog post from cnn.com. It simply amazes me that a peer reviewed journal would suggest that fast food companies offer statins with their meals to offset their horrible health effects. See my comments at the end of the article.
CNN Blog Post
A new report in the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that fast food restaurants should offer statins – a popular class of cholesterol-lowering medications – alongside their unhealthy food.
“We propose that the fast food industry is well placed to offer advice and supplements to counteract the cardiovascular harm arising from the foods they purvey,” the report said. “These companies already have an infrastructure for providing a variety of condiments… A generic statin could be added to the panoply of items in the self-service tray at little additional cost.”
The study – which likened taking a statin before eating to putting on a bike helmet before biking – was based on analyses of other scientific studies, and concluded that taking the drugs could offset the risk of eating fast food just enough to render the food harmless.
“Most of the primary prevention statin regimes we examined, with the exception of pravastatin, had the strength to counteract the increase in risk caused by an unhealthy diet; or eating an additional 36 g[rams] of total fat or 2.8 g[rams] of trans fat per day – approximately equivalent to a Quarter Pounder with cheese and a small milkshake,” the British researchers said in the study.
But Dr. Ralph Sacco, president of the American Heart Association, says that not only isn’t the solution that simple, it could be dangerous.
“There are other things regarding obesity that are important that a statin won’t neutralize, such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” Sacco said. “Even though we agree statins have a lot of good evidence in reducing cardiovascular and stroke risk, there are certain risks with any medications.”
The risks are relatively infrequent but include liver damage, muscle cramps and long-term muscle damage.
The British researchers concluded that the risks of eating fast food are much greater.
“Statins have been shown to be safe even at high doses,” the report says. “The documented safety record of statins is substantially better than that of fast foods, which carry not only direct cardiovascular risks, but other risks due to obesity.”
But regardless of whether the benefits do in fact outweigh the risks, Sacco says there are far better ways to reduce the negative effects of obesity.
“If you can control it with diet and exercise, that would be our preference rather than having to take a medicine.”
Dr. Court’s Comments
This is perhaps the most ridiculous recommendation I have ever seen from a mainstream medical publication. They are suggesting that fast food chains offer cholesterol lower medications, called statins, with their meals to offset the negative health effects they have on human physiology. This is the pinnacle of not taking responsibility for one’s health. Why take responsibility if you can take a pill to supposedly offset the detriments to your health from eating the most unhealthy foods in the world?
Statin medications are not as safe as Big Pharma would like you to believe. Statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, that is, they act by blocking the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making cholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase). The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established—there are now 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk.
For starters, reported side effects include:
- Muscle problems, polyneuropathy (nerve damage in the hands and feet), and rhabdomyolysis (a serious degenerative muscle tissue condition)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Immune depression
- Pancreas or liver dysfunction, including a potential increase in liver enzymes
These side effects hardly seem harmless and to give them as an option with your value meal from McDonald’s is outrageous. It is a great marketing ploy by the pharmaceutical industry to get as many American’s on statins as possible. Think about it. Wouldn’t this kind of strategy significantly increase sales of statin drugs? Of course it would. And where do we start and stop giving them to people. Does a 3 year old eating a happy meal get a statin to go with it? What about people who are already taking statins? Do they just take extra because you really never can get to much medication can you? The slope is a slippery one and I cannot believe this has even been suggested.
I was happy to see the president of the American Heart Association take the other side of this story. He mentions that statins do nothing to offset the other health complications of fast food like diabetes and high blood pressure. This is true. You can’t take a statin to avoid diabetes. What he doesn’t mention is the fact that those kinds of food – food high in refined sugar – are notorious for raising inflammation in the body. When you raise inflammation you raise the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoporosis to name just a few. You can’t control inflammation by taking a statin. Some new research does suggest that statins lower one of the inflammatory enzymes called CRP. But that’s just one. There are others that are still detrimental to one’s health.
This kind of a recommendation is dangerous. Period. It is also irresponsible for the American Journal of Cardiology to publish such information. It plants a dangerous seed. This kind of a recommendation encourages people to continue to make poor decisions regarding their diets. It gives them an excuse to continue to destroy their health under the pretense that they are offsetting their bad decisions with a pill. Instead, we should be encouraging people to make healthier choices regarding their diet and lifestyle.