This comes from a discussion I was having with my family about the UK's National Health Service proposing putting statins in drinking water to combat the widespread problems of high cholesterol and triglycerides resulting from widespread obesity. While the idea was floated as early as 2004 (it may have been even earlier, but that was the earliest BBC.com news story I could find about it), as far as I know, it came up again just a few months ago.
Follow the jump to read my take on it.
As you know, I lean to the left on a lot of issues. That said, while I am generally in favor of at least some government regulation of private industries (especially in cases where consumers are harmed physically or financially), I do not support regulation without a clear purpose. Also, I am in favor of minimal to no government regulation with regard to most societal issues. (I am OK with sin taxes but not outright bans, unless the substance in question has been proven (repeatedly) to be truly harmful to society as a whole.)
What does this have to do with the issue of statins in drinking water? This is an issue of social policy, and I am definitely against the idea (of putting statins in drinking water).
So what if 60% of the British population is obese? What about the other 40%?
Well, what about them?
Statins are known to have a range of side effects. Combined with the oft-repeated recommendations to drink 8 glasses of water every day (which many people do come close to doing (about 5-6 a day)), those 40% are going to have all of the side effects with none of the benefits! Yay! (Not.)
Also, while it takes a lot of water to cause water poisoning (a lot more than 8 glasses a day), statins, as a class of drugs, would likely cause issues when consumed in such quantities. If the concentration were to be decreased, the statins would then likely lose their efficacy. It's a no-win situation. In addition to this, people will build a tolerance towards statins (just like any other drug) when consumed in such quantities, so statins will again lose their effectiveness over time.
Furthermore, statins are known to have negative interactions with a lot of other kinds of drugs (with those drugs warning in their advertisements not to take the drug if one takes statins). This means that people will then needlessly have to suffer other ailments that could easily be treated if statins aren't in the water supply.
All in all, it's a terrible idea, and I sincerely hope the UK's NHS doesn't go ahead with it.