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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

McStatins rejected

Friday August 13th, 2010

A senior British expert has rejected the idea of a "McStatin" pill to help counteract the effects of junk food.

A single statin could counteract the increased heart risk from a cheeseburger and milkshake, according to Dr Darrel Francis, of Imperial College, London, UK.

He says fast food outlets could provide statins free of charge to help neutralise the harmful effects of their foods.

But British Heart Foundation medical director Professor Peter Weissberg slapped the idea down.

He said: "The suggestion that the harmful effects of a junk food meal might be erased by taking a cholesterol-lowering statin tablet should not be taken literally.

"A junk food diet has a wealth of unhealthy consequences beyond raising cholesterol. It can cause high blood pressure through too much salt, or obesity through eating meals loaded with calories. These are all risk factors for life-threatening health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

"Statins are a vital medicine for people with - or at high risk of developing - heart disease. They are not a magic bullet."

Dr Francis is to put forward his ideas in the American Journal of Cardiology, published at the weekend.

Yesterday he said he did believe it was better to cut out fatty food altogether.

He said: "Statins don't cut out all of the unhealthy effects of burgers and fries. 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."

He added: "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."

He added: "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.

"It makes sense to make risk-reducing supplements available just as easily as the unhealthy condiments that are provided free of charge. It would cost less than 5p per customer - not much different to a sachet of ketchup."

One statin, simvastatin, can now be purchased over the counter in UK pharmacies.

E.A. Ferenczi et al. "Can a statin neutralise the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy dietary choices?" American Journal of Cardiology, August 15 2010

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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