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Giving out statins with junk food could increase the risk of diabetes

New research claiming that fast food restaurants should give out statins to combat the effects of fatty food could encourage people to lead unhealthier lives and increase the risk of people developing Type 2 diabetes.

Research published in the American Journal of Cardiology states that a statin pill could offset the increased risk to the heart caused by the fat in a cheeseburger and a small milkshake. It suggests that the cholesterol-lowering drug, which costs as little as 5p, could be handed out in the same way as sachets of tomato ketchup.

Statins lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and are prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, Dr Darrel Francis and his team at Imperial College, London, believe that most statins could now also be used as a rational way to counteract the increased risk caused by eating fatty foods on a regular basis.

Not a quick fix

Zoe Harrison, Diabetes UK Care Advisor, raised the concern that it is irresponsible and dangerous to promote the use of statins as a 'quick fix' to counteract the effects of having an unhealthy diet.

Zoe said: "Statins can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering the bad cholesterol in our blood which can be raised due to a high-fat diet. However, they don’t prevent all the side effects that result from an excessive intake of fatty food.

"Eating too much food that is high in fat and calories can lead to obesity, which is a key risk factor to developing not only heart disease but also Type 2 diabetes. If left untreated or not managed effectively, diabetes can then lead to some very serious complications including cardiovascular disease. Therefore the most sensible way to reduce these risks is to eat a healthy balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and be physically active.

"Statins also have some serious side effects – such as damage to the liver, pancreas and muscles – which is why they should always be prescribed by your doctor who can then closely monitor how you are responding to the medication."

Other risk factors

Alongside being overweight, other risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include being over 40 (or over 25 in Black and South Asian people) and having a close relative with diabetes. Diabetes UK urges anyone who could be at risk of developing the condition to go to their doctor or healthcare professional for a simple diabetes test. People can find out their diabetes risk score via a new online test atwww.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore.

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