Would you like a statin with your fries? British researchers have suggested that fast-food restaurants should hand out complimentary cholesterol lowering medication (in addition to their free condiments) in an effort to offset the increased risk of having a heart attack after eating fatty foods. This out-of-the-box thinking was published yesterday in the American Journal of Cardiology.

In an analysis of over 40,000 patients, investigators compared the increase in relative risk for cardiovascular disease associated with the total fat and trans fat content of fast foods against the relative risk decrease provided by daily statin consumption. Findings showed that the reduction in cardiovascular risk offered by a low-dose statin is sufficient to compensate for the increased risk in cardiovascular risk from eating a hamburger with cheese and a small milkshake. The authors concluded that “statin therapy can neutralize the cardiovascular risk caused by harmful diet choices.”  However, the authors did emphasize that such a strategy was “no substitute for systematic lifestyle improvements, including healthy diet, regular exercise, weightloss, and smoking cessation.”

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The authors drew parallels between eating junk food and other “risky pursuits” such as motorcycling, smoking, and driving. Can minimizing the risk of unhealthy food by using a statin be compared to wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle?