Adrift off Statin Island

This is not my idea of a Happy Meal:

Fast food outlets could provide statin drugs free of charge so that customers can neutralise the heart disease dangers of fatty food, researchers at Imperial College London suggest in a new study.

In a paper published in the American Journal of Cardiology, Dr Darrel Francis and colleagues calculate that the reduction in cardiovascular risk offered by a statin is enough to offset the increase in heart attack risk from eating a cheeseburger and a milkshake.

Tom Naughton, no fan of statins, doesn’t like this idea at all:

[A]pparently these researchers are convinced that saturated fat clogs your arteries the way tobacco stains your teeth: a little bit with every dose. Eat a burger, grow some plaque — unless, by gosh, you pop a statin immediately to halt the process.

If, heaven forbid, we start serving fast food with a side of statins, here’s what will happen: five or 10 years from now, you’ll see headlines about a new study that links fast-food consumption to muscle weakness, depression and memory loss. The blame, of course, will be assigned to the burgers. Michael Jacobson of CSPI will seek out the nearest TV camera and declare Quarter Pounders “Alzheimer’s in a bun.”

Apart from the fact that Jacobson, the Perez Hilton of health, is never far from a TV camera to begin with, Naughton’s prediction looks good, though really it’s pretty easy to see that fast food, if it’s still permitted to people outside the Federal government five or ten years from now, will be blamed for everything from crib death to the heartbreak of psoriasis.

(From Margi Lowry’s Facebook page. I think I owe her a McRib.)


  1. Tatyana »

    15 August 2010 · 1:13 pm

    apart form all this observations, I noticed the words “free of charge” , which Imperial College London propose to oblige fast-food restaurant owners.

    What the hell? Maybe restaurant owners should propose Imperial College scientists should pay for it out of their own pocket – and not from government grants.

  2. fillyjonk »

    15 August 2010 · 1:30 pm

    You’re right. Michael Jacobson IS the Perez Hilton of health. And he’s ten times more annoying, because it’s easier to ignore Hilton.

  3. canadienne »

    16 August 2010 · 4:42 pm

    I find it amusing that people have this reaction to Mr. Jacobson and CSPI.
    If everything CSPI says is wrong, then Mr Jacobson should be easy to ignore. If we find it hard to ignore because we have the sneaking feeling that maybe some of it is valid, then it’s just a teensy bit of cognitive dissonance, isn’t it?

    Disclaimer: I subscribe to the Nutrition Action Healthletter, and consider it just another source of health info – I do appreciate the fact that they don’t accept advertising and quote actual studies. I also eat bacon, occasionally, and butter, and use salt as well as experiment with a lot of other seasonings, and don’t take it personally when Mr. Jacobson says we are all too fat, even though I suppose I could lose a few kilos. I am all about moderation.

    Also, if you look at all the info about statins, I think using them without a prescription would be a really bad idea, except for the makers of statins.

  4. CGHill »

    16 August 2010 · 5:46 pm

    I don’t find the guy particularly difficult to ignore. On the other hand, passing up the opportunity to make fun of him is simply Not Done.

    The CSPI modus operandi is pretty much of a piece with all such groups: latch on to a couple of grains of truth and surround them with several pounds of alarmism.

    Disclosure: I don’t add salt to anything except boiling water and restaurant fries, and I seldom have the latter; I actually have been prescribed a statin; I will eventually die. (All that crap about “preventable deaths” makes me giggle: you can’t prevent squat. At best, you can stall for a while.)

  5. canadienne »

    16 August 2010 · 11:15 pm

    I’m older now than either of my parents when they died (touch wood) and have (touch wood again) so far sidestepped a couple of Family History things, but it’s anecdotal of course, only one subject and no controls in this particular case. It does amuse me that people get more het up about CSPI than other diet pundits, though.

    My attitude is really more akin to Michael Pollan’s (In Defense of Food): cook from scratch, with ingredients as natural as possible. Of course if Life offers you a big bowl of really good ice cream, you _must_ eat it and damn the sat fat. Regret is more toxic than saturated fat.

  6. fillyjonk »

    17 August 2010 · 8:08 am

    Yeah, but there are people in the diet/nutrition industry who will do their damnedest to make you regret eating that ice cream.

    With some people (lots of them women), the whole eating thing is also fraught because of the whole body-size issue, and the idea that if you’re bigger than a certain size (I don’t know what it is now, it used to be an 8), there’s something horribly wrong with you and you should immediately begin fasting until you get “small enough.”

  7. canadienne »

    17 August 2010 · 1:18 pm

    Whoah, body image, what a minefield. Seems to me it’s not the folks at CSPI (who, I admit, do get a bit fanatical) but the women’s magazines, who want to sell diet and exercise issues by making one feel fat, and the fashion industry that are pushing the body image thing (also this very blog keeps posting pictures of ladies with very long, thin legs which make me feel inadequate. ;) I get the feeling those legs would mostly end somewhere around my clavicle, were I to stand beside their owners.) CSPI gets a bit overwrought about the health risks of excess fat, but they have never tried to persuade me that I need a “bikini body” or “boy short bottom.” If I ever encounter either phrase in the Nutrition Action Healthletter, I am so canceling my subscription.

    Oh, and ice cream is a great source of calcium.

RSS feed for comments on this post