Which are more healthful? Apples or Statins ?
A recent article in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) states.
"Prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK".
A statin is a medicine that lowers blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase.
The researchers concluded that the 150 year old public health message:
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away",
is able to match more widespread use of modern medicine, and is likely to have less side effects.
The research recommends however that people who are already prescribed statins should continue taking them, but says that eating more apples would also be an excellent idea.
Using mathematical models a team of researchers at the University of Oxford set out to test how a 150 year old proverb might compare with the more widespread use of statins in the UK population.
They analyzed the effect on the most common causes of vascular mortality of prescribing either a statin a day to those not already taking one or an apple a day to everyone aged over 50 years in the UK.
The researchers assumed a 70% compliance rate and that overall calorie intake remained constant.
The Pros And Cons Of Statins
It’s estimated that 5.2 million people are currently eligible for statin treatment in the UK and that 17.6 million people who are not currently taking statins would be offered them if they became recommended as a primary prevention measure for everyone over 50.
They calculate that offering a daily statin to 17.6 million more adults would reduce the annual number of vascular deaths by 9,400, while offering a daily apple to 70% of the total UK population aged over 50 years (22 million people) would avert 8,500 vascular deaths.
However, the side-effects from statins mean that prescribing statins to everyone over the age of 50 is predicted to lead to over a thousand extra cases of muscle disease (myopathy) and over ten thousand extra diagnoses of diabetes.