FYI Health Tip
Why not take a pill to prevent the cholesterol-raising effect of your favorite fast food burger and fries?
was linked to diabetes today. Which is worse, diabetes or heart disease? Let”s go to the fast food restaurant, super size our meal and debate. Speaking of fast food joints, there”s another genius “pop-a-pill” solution buzzing around town, giving us yet another reason to continue to eat crap and not exercise. You wear a seat belt while riding in a car, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, and brush your teeth to prevent cavities. So why not take a pill to prevent the cholesterol-raising effect of your favorite fast food burger and fries? Even if only 1 percent of your brain is considering the idea, keep reading.
Researchers studied risk reduction strategies for people with high-fat eating habits from a new angle. They looked at seven randomized control trials (a total of 50,000 participants) that had previously examined the ability of a daily statin medication to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by virtue of lowering cholesterol. Statins are medications that are used to lower cholesterol, such as Lipitor. What they found was that using a daily statin demonstrated a risk reduction comparable to (and in many cases more powerful than) the potential increased risk of consuming a Quarter Pounder® with cheese and a small milkshake.
They then argued that since statins can dramatically reduce the risk of atherosclerosis — plaque buildup in arteries that is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke — it would be possible to work out a medication “tariff” based on the harmfulness of various meals (e.g. a burger and milkshake). Specifically, they argue that fast food restaurants could serve as a vehicle for prevention by giving a statin with meals to negate the atherogenic (cholesterol raising and blood vessel damaging) effect of the meals they sell. Since the cost of statin drugs is so low, providing them to customers for free would be akin to giving away those extra ketchup packets.
Of course, what a free cholesterol-lowering statin can’t do is take away the toxic consequences of the other components of regular fast-food meals. Fast food contains excess calories, which lead to obesity and increased risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as high amounts of sodium, which contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke.
Herein lies the danger. If we placate the desire for fast foods with a pill — or “sprinkle-on statins,” as the researchers suggest — we neglect to address the inherent problem. People who regularly eat a diet based on vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy unsaturated fats and fruit will be healthier than individuals who “neutralize” their regular fast food habit with statins. These researchers have proven that they understand the plight of those who love fast food, but their cheeky recommendation is one that may help us win an individual battle — but still lose the war.
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