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The New Happy Meal: A Burger With a Side of Cholesterol Meds

DiscoblogBy Joseph CalamiaAugust 14, 2010 2:26 AM


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Just in time for the release of Denny's new Fried Cheese Melt, a study in The American Journal of Cardiology questions if cholesterol-reducing drugs called statins might pair well with fast food. A side of McStatins with that Big Mac, the study suggests, could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Using data from previous studies, researchers in the UK compared the decreased risk of cardiovascular disease from taking statins to the increased risk caused by sucking down a cheeseburger and milkshake. From their abstract:

"The risk reduction associated with the daily consumption of most statins, with the exception of pravastatin, is more powerful than the risk increase caused by the daily extra fat intake associated with a 7-oz hamburger (Quarter Pounder®) with cheese and a small milkshake."

The study's authors note that the pills certainly won't counteract all of the ill effects of unhealthy eating choices--diners would still have to contend with the calories and the sodium. Instead they compare taking the medications with other protections from risky behaviors, like wearing a helmet while motorcycling. Reuters reports that some physicians are worried that the combination will give fast food lovers the wrong message, and may make diners think that they can avoid the negative consequences of their date with the deep fryer. But study coauthor Darrel P. Francis' statement to CBS News makes you wonder if the currently prescription-only drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor might soon be available next to the ketchup pump:

"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."

Related content: Discoblog: Fast Food News: It Boosts Impatience, and What Trumps KFC’s Double Down? Discoblog: Fast Food Joints Lie About Calories (Denny’s, We’re Looking at You) Discoblog: Grand Engineering Challenge of Our Era: A Non-Lethal Hot Dog Discoblog: How Deep Fryer Grease Can Become an Energy-Saving Coating for Your Roof

Image: flickr / Marshall Astor -- Food Pornographer

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