Researchers at Imperial College London are suggesting that fast food restaurants could counter the health risks of eating their foods by offering customers free statins, a prescribed drug used to lower cholesterol, with their meals. I know, when I first read that, I thought it was a satire worthy of the pages of The Onion.
But no, the researchers are serious.
Statins are valuable due to their ability to reduce the amount of unhealthy LDL cholesterol in the blood and a person’s risk of having a heart attack.
In their research published in the American Journal of Cardiology, Dr. Darrel Francis and his colleagues calculate that the reduction in cardiovascular risk is enough to counter the increase in heart attack risk from eating fatty fast food.
“Statins don’t cut out all of the unhealthy effects of burgers and fries,” says Dr. Francis of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London. “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.”
While statins are often prescribed medications, they can be had in low doses (10mg) over the counter at pharmacies.
“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,” says Dr. Francis.