Thursday 12 August 2010

A dark day for satire

Do my eyes deceive me or is public health jumping the shark yet again?

This, from the Beeb:

'Give out statins with junk food'

Fast food outlets should consider handing out cholesterol-lowering drugs to combat the effects of fatty food, say UK researchers.

Taking a statin pill every day would offset the harm caused by a daily cheeseburger and milkshake, the Imperial College London team said.

It would only cost 5p a customer - similar to a sachet of ketchup.

Doesn't look good, does it? But before we over-react, we all know how the media can exaggerate research findings for dramatic effect. So let's have a look at what was written in the actual study...

Routine accessibility of statins in establishments providing unhealthy food might be a rational modern means to offset the cardiovascular risk. Fast food outlets already offer free condiments to supplement meals.

A free statin-containing accompaniment would offer cardiovascular benefits, opposite to the effects of equally available salt, sugar, and high-fat condiments.

Okay. Checked it, and that's what it says. WTF? Have these people have gone stark staring mad? Prescription drugs handed out in McDonalds to any random person that wanders in off the street?! Prescription drugs (made by GlaxoSmithKline) which have prescription-level side effects being equated with sachets of ketchup?! Hell, let's just pump the stuff into the water supply and be done with it.

It is now officially impossible—even in the depths of an absinthe-induced hallucination—to come up with a spoof that would out-parody the schemes of public health. These people are going to put The Onion and The Daily Mash out of business.

UPDATE: As if to prove my point, I see that my little joke about pumping statins into the water supply has indeed been seriously mooted, way back in 2004: Statin-fortified drinking water?


Curmudgeon said...

This, of course, would encourage people to eat more Big Macs because people would believe the statin pill would undo all the "harm" they caused. Classic example of unintended consequences.

Mr A said...

When and how are big pharma going to be stopped? We have people being jailed Iin New York) and businesses being put out of business because of fictitious second hand smoke (including supposedly from snuff and chewing tobacco (!?) - (see Dick Puddlecote's blog), and the Government going on about their tests of e-cigs showed that there were carcinogenic substances in their sample which is why they are regulating them (see the Govt's response to today's epetition), yet they want to hand out Big Pharma's products like candy. And while it would still be worrying if it was aspirin, statins are amazingly nasty. According to Big Pharma they are a safe wonder-pill (and they've had their pet doctors reduce what is considered unhealthy so even more may be prescribed - indeed, I've heard them pushing for everyone over a certain age to get them... so much for needs-based medicine when there's money to be made, eh?), yet I don't know of one person who hasn't had hideous side effects off them. Anecdotal yes, but my mother, my father, my uncle, and three of my parents' neighbours all had negative reactions (that is 100% of the people I know who have taken them). Not just the squits or a rash or something minor. Proper flu-like bedridden symptoms. Also, swollen joints, muscle fatigue, pain in joints. Both of my parents were bedridden by them, for weeks! And one of their neighbours still has muscle wastage and sweats etc now, 12 months after her last pill. She is now essentially disabled, where she was a healthy 60-something before but her numbers "just needed a little tweaking." And they're not alone - I remember 5 Live doing a phone-in on "Statins - the Wonder Drug" and their being amazed that they were being overwhelmed by negative callers.

Funny though - I've smoked for 20 years and have seen my Dr once in that time..... for wisdom teeth removal, yet snuff is being regulated for public health reasons, as are plastic vapourisers.... because they LOOK like cigarettes. Depressing old world isn't it?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Bleurgh. What Curmudge says. Mr A's comment is just too depressing.

Anonymous said...

Statins can also cause serious memory loss. I know this first hand as I was prescribed them...

Anonymous said...

I can't remember what the doctor prescribed for me . . .

George Speller

Anonymous said...

Mr A,
Do you have a link to the "Govt's response to today's epetition" ?
I don't have any personal experience of statins but thought I'd add a couple of links to older articles in case anyone is interested.


subrosa said...

I know a few people who have been prescribed statins in the past - you know those of a 'certain age - and only one continues to take them.

The side effect are horrendous. In fact one friend, who thought himself rather fit before he started, ended up being unable to walk more than 50 yards owing to severe leg cramps which continued 24 hours a day. A few other friends also complained of muscle pain and cramp along with severe headaches. Last year they set up a small protest group here and met the local doctors.

Now only one take these chemicals. The others are still in stages of recovery.

Make no mistake, the decision to give these to older people was purely for money. Big pharma holds the purse strings.

Man with Many Chins said...

In other news, I have just had 4 slices of bread, toasted, covered with lovely thick slices of extra mature cheese, garnished with garlic, rosemary and a fine sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Washed down with a glass of old speckled hen and a ciggie. Queue righteous indignation from the health fascists.

As to the statins, nothing would surprise me, especially considering they are quite happy to fill us with flouride which is lethal enough by itself.

I also know people who have had serious reactions to statins.

dunhillbabe said...

I have resorted to soco lime and lemon i find it helps and does well with a nice Dunhill International. As a possible side effect (as smoking must surely adle the brain ) my thoughts have turned to the Old Testament for a possible solution. I think it would be teriffic if the armies of hysterical 'public health' obsessed, nagging, scaremongering,self -perpetuating a'holes out there could be visited by the angel of death (or at least some REAL and NASTY illness) - so that when they finally recovered they would understand what constituted a cause for concern and what was bullshit, and henceforth dedicated themselves to dealing with the former and sparing us the endless daily dripfeed of the latter. Locusts anyone?

timbone said...

I was on statins for 6 months in 2004, this before NICE approved the generic statins (much cheaper for the NHS). 'Proper' statins, eg torastatin, have no side effects but are very expensive.

Anyway, shooting forward to January 2009. I was pursuaded to take simvastatin, the cheapest with horrendous side effects. I took them for a month. My doctor wouldn't put me on 'proper' ones, so I said 'no thank you'.

Following a blood test recently, I am now on pravastatin. These are generic, but far better (and more expensive) than simvastatin. No life threatening side effects, just a bit of hot flushing after a nights sleep (or a couple of hours 'old man's lie down'). Nothing more than having a male menopause!!

One thing the doctor doesn't tell you is to take Q10 enzyme if you take statins, Healthspan in Guernsey do though - no, this is not an advert.

Now for the good bit. Here is a little job for you Chris (may I call you Chris?). I read something somewhere which I never saved. It is obviously something they don't want to make public. Apparently, one of the effects of statins is to slow down smoke related lung damage.

Anonymous said...

My cholesterol was over 250, and it still is, to be honest. My doctor prescribed Vytorin and it knocked my cholesterol down to 105 in about two months with no change in lifestyle whatsoever.

I knew then. No good.

Mr A said...


Here's the link to the Government's response to the epetition on e-cigs.

Anonymous said...

An Old Cholesterol Remedy Is New Again
"It is niacin, the ordinary B vitamin."
"In its therapeutic form, nicotinic acid, niacin can increase HDL as much as 35 percent when taken in high doses, usually about 2,000 milligrams per day."

"In 1975, long before statins, a landmark study of 8,341 men who had suffered heart attacks found that niacin was the only treatment among five tested that prevented second heart attacks"

"Niacin was first discovered from the oxidation of nicotine to form nicotinic acid. When the properties of nicotinic acid were discovered, it was thought prudent to choose a name to dissociate it from nicotine, in order to avoid the perception that vitamins or niacin-rich food contains nicotine. The resulting name 'niacin' was derived from nicotinic acid + vitamin."

Powerful Health Agent
"Solanesol, extracted from tobacco leaves, is used in synthesis of high-value bio-chemicals such as vitamin-K analogues and Co-enzyme Q10 Co Q10 . Solanesol, the starting material used in the synthesis of Co Q 10"
and Vitamin K analogues, is also a potentiating agent in these medicines. Studies indicate that by introducing solanesol radical into the structure of some medicines, the effects increase noticeably. With solanesol as its primary material, Co-enzyme Q 10 is useful in the treatment of heart diseases, cancers and ulcers.

Well it amuses me, in a disturbed sort of way.


timbone said...

Thanks Rose. Isn't it strange that Co-enzyme Q10 is not mentioned by doctors prescribing statins. Side effects are caused in the most part by the fact that statins can prevent the cells from pruducing Q10. Of course, Q10 is not a 'proper' medicine, doctors don't mention things that you get in places like Holland & Barrat!

"Co-enzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is found in all of the body's cells and in particularly high quantities in the heart muscle.

Co-Q10 also plays a key role in the release of cellular energy, speeding up the metabolic process by helping to convert food into energy that can be used for everyday activity. More importantly, it helps to create a substance called ATP, the energy 'currency' of the body which drives every function performed by the body's cells.

As we age, the natural levels of Co-Q10 in our cells fall, reducing the levels of energy that the cells receive. This results in the cells functioning less well and becoming more likely to develop disease, age or even die. If you are amongst the 1 in 3 people over the age of 45 that take statin medication, a Co-Q10 supplement is widely recommended to help boost your body's levels.

timbone said...

Another one Rose. This is for your joke book. Someone was telling me how good "Kalms" were. When I told them that they contain niacin, which is derived from nicotine, they were very alarmed. I don't think they sleep as well these days, as they threw their "Kalms" down the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Thats quite ridiculous!

Red Yeast Rice
"A few years ago, drug companies discovered that red yeast rice (a natural supplement) contained powerful, natural compounds that balance cholesterol levels. These compounds are called lovastatins (sound familiar?)

Drug companies ripped off the lovastatin molecules from red yeast rice, then patented them. Once they achieved FDA approval for their "statin drugs," it was easy to file a petition requesting the outlawing of red yeast rice, claiming the supplement was "adulterated" with drugs! Which drugs? Statin drugs, of course -- the very same drugs that were isolated from red yeast rice in the first place!"

22nd July 1960
Other Materials From Tobacco Waste

"If other products of high value could be extracted along with the nicotine, the extraction of the latter from tobacco waste might become more profitable or the cost of nicotine could fall.
Such a material would have to be in the high price range associated with drugs.
At present there is no such material on the horizon although it is just possible that ubiquinone ( Co-enzyme Q ) or some related compound may become important in medicine.

Ubiquinone has been found in tobacco as also has solanesol, a long chain alcohol which could provide part of the ubiquinone molecule.

Ubiquinone is known to be a normal constituent of many animal tissues and in some senses is a vitamin since the benzene ring is not known to be synthesisised in man.

It is known that Hofman-La Roche are carrying out extensive work on this in Switzerland, and it would be interesting to know if they have considered tobacco as a raw material.

In addition, the isolation of a-tocopheral and solanachromene from flue cured tobacco suggests that the tobacco plant may contain a range of biologically important compounds such as Vitamin E and Vitamin K as well as compounds related from solanesol.

However, none of this is very exciting, first because Reynolds have published fairly widely in this field and must be assumed to be well aware of the possibilities, and second because the type of compound considered does not have a molecule intrinsically very difficult to synthesise from cheap materials.

As a guess for example, if ubiquinone became important, the market price would quickly drop to a few shillings per gram.

Nevertheless, this aspect is worth watching and the political impact of the tobacco industry making a contribution to medicine might be considered important." ... 000711.pdf
The link is no longer recognised though was fine earlier this year.

Fascinating stuff, I've strung it all together in no particular order, so people can make their own decisions on what would be the proper substitutes if things get worse.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Mr A.

timbone said...

Thanks for that Rose. The info you gave about bona fide statins explains the side effect problem. There are no side effects with genuine statins. These are more expensive though, I think lipidor and atorastatin fall into this category. It is the generic imitations like simvastatin which are notorious for side effects. Simvastatin is one of the cheapest, which is why it is prescribed so much. I refused simvastatin. I am on another generic, pravastatin which is not so bad. This is why Q10 is recommended, because it couteracts the side effects of generic statins.