The Nation's Health + [Nutrition]

Nutrition: It doesn't matter what I eat!

"How are your food choices?" I asked.

"What does it matter, doc? I take Lipitor. Doesn't that take care of it? I eat what I want!"

So declared Matthew. What he "wanted" was pretty much the diet of a teenager: pizza, cheeseburgers, soft drinks, snacks. His "beer belly" (visceral fat) gave it away. So did his blood work that showed flagrant lipoprotein abnormalities--small LDL, an HDL of 37 mg, and a severe after-eating flood of fat represented by increased "intermediate-density lipoprotein" (IDL).

Like many people, Matthew had been persuaded (or chose to believe) that LDL cholesterol was the sole cause for heart disease. Lipitor was therefore was all he needed. It must be great--how else could they afford all those slick TV commercials?

Well, it is definitely not true. In fact, with the persistence of Matthew's abnormal lipoprotein patterns, we should expect his heart scan score to continue to grow by 30%--the very same rate of increase as if he were taking nothing.

Specifically, Lipitor and drugs like it do not :

--Raise HDL.

--Correct or reduce the proportion of small LDL.

--Block after-eating flood of fat, nor do they accelerate clearance of unhealthy fats persisting in the bloodstream after eating.

Yes, what you eat does have real consequences, even if you take a statin drugs. In fact, the foods you ingest have a remarkably rapid and dramatic effect on what your blood contains. Any diabetic who checks his/her blood sugar knows this. They eat a slice of whole wheat toast and watch their blood sugar skyrocket.

Mind what you eat. Make it enjoyable, of course. But drugs do not provide impunity.