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

By Joseph Calamia | August 13, 2010 5:26 pm

burgerJust 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

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
  • Rhacodactylus

    lol I love that this is the solution to our gluttony, good work America!

  • Darrel Francis

    Hi Rhacodactylus,

    Thank you for the important observation, that this is NOT a solution for our gluttony. You and I both know that people should not eat unhealthy food, because there is no antidote. But what shall we do for people who continue to consume them?

    Shall we

    (a) Ignore them

    (b) Allow them to be given free supplements that increase their risk by being directly harmful and by indirectly increasing our appetite for the meal (salt, sugar etc)

    (c) Deny them access to anything that may mitigate the risk increment from the meal?

    Currently we do all of the above!

    The study sets out in detail the basis for the calculations and delineates the risks and benefits.

  • John

    Some people (I, for one.) cannot take statins because they can damage muscles. This could lead to lots of problems.

  • Rej

    Statins were given under false pretenses : cholesterol is not the culprit in cardiovascular diseases & in fact is good for your health. Inflammation is the real cause. Prescribing doctors have been brainwashed by the big pharmaceuticals ( statins is a billion-dollar industry).
    Statins prevent the production of cholesterol but also the making of CoQ10 and dolichols which are essential in the protection and the repair of mitoch0ndrial units. Without these you get premature aging, muscle problems.
    In fact, statins reduce inflammation, but smaller doses would be ideal and people taking them should also take CoQ10 supplements from the start. They should not be prescribed to reduce cholesterol.
    In fact, studies have shown that cholesterol reduction produces more deaths than when it’s unchecked.

  • surge

    Meds are not the best way to prevent – they should be used when there is absolutely no other way to treat.
    For preventing cholesterol build up with unhealthy food, just add a side of garlic. And to set priorities right, stop making a big fuss about ‘smelling good’ at the cost of health.

  • Brian Too

    Make it and thousands will buy. I guarantee it.

  • Yamuna

    Helloooo….. are you folks for real? There is a direct correlation between diet and heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. If any of you are serious about knowing the solution to these deadly diseases read, “The China Study” by Colin and Thomas Campbell. Reading it may save your life. Of course, the pharmaceutical companies don’t want to know that a whole foods plant based diet would save billions of dollars in health care because there’s no profit in it for them. And guess what else benefits from a whole foods plant based diet? The planet. “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar