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Your burger, sir -- and a heart pill

Fast food outlets could hand out cholesterol-lowering drugs in the same way they supply ketchup as a way of combating the effects of fatty food, researchers have said.

A statin pill could offset the increased risk to the heart caused by the fat in a 7oz hamburger with cheese and a small milkshake, they said. The cost would be the same as a sachet of ketchup.

People who smoke are encouraged to use filters while those who drive are told to wear seatbelts, said the researchers.

"Likewise, some individuals eat unhealthily," they argued.

"Routine accessibility of statins in establishments providing unhealthy food might be a rational modern means to offset the cardiovascular risk.

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

Statins are thought to be safe for the vast majority of people, although some experts have raised concerns about side-effects, including problems with the liver and kidneys.