Want drugs with that burger?

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: November 29th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As Americans get increasingly savvy about the health risks associated with fast food, restaurants have added more calorie-friendly items to their menus. Where once there was only french fries and cheeseburgers, there are now salads, yogurt and fruit.

But some researchers in London are advising fast food purveyors to take the trend one step further. In a recently published paper, scientists from Imperial College London say the outlets should provide a free statin to every customer to offset the artery-clogging potential of a fast food meal.

Statins are drugs that help lower cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to produce cholesterol. They also might help the body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up on artery walls, preventing the clogging in blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks. Studies have shown a clear connection between total fat intake and blood cholesterol, which is strongly linked to heart disease.

The British scientists say their research showed that one statin offset the increased risk of a heart attack created by eating a cheeseburger and a large milkshake. They recommended, perhaps tongue in cheek, that fast food restaurants supply the pills much as they would condiments like ketchup or mustard.

Of course, they cautioned, studies would have to be done to determine the risk of people taking statins without medical supervision. They also said a statin would not turn a fast food diet into health food.

However noble their intentions, it seems pretty clear the researchers don’t seriously expect fast food restaurants to offer you a McStatin with your next value meal. Your best bet would be to avoid the cheeseburgers and pick healthier menu options. Or simply avoid fast food altogether.