Red yeast rice effective where statins fail: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red yeast rice, Statin

Dietary supplements of red yeast rice may lower LDL cholesterol levels by 21 per cent, and offer a blood lipid lowering alternative for people intolerant to statins, says a new study.

Reductions in total cholesterol levels of 15 per cent were also reported, and 92 per cent of participants tolerated the dietary supplement, according to findings published in the American Journal of Cardiology​.

“The present report has provided real-world evidence of LDL cholesterol reduction with nonselected, over-the-counter red yeast rice therapy in an outpatient population intolerant to other lipid medications,”​ wrote the researchers from the University of Tennessee, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, and the University of Connecticut.

“Producing red yeast rice under controlled conditions could provide a widely available and safe dietary supplement for lowering cholesterol,”​ they added.

Red yeast rice is the product of yeast grown on rice. It is a dietary staple in some Asian countries, and reportedly contains several compounds that inhibit cholesterol production.

The new study supports similar findings for the ingredient, with American researchers reporting that the red yeast rice could indeed help reduce blood lipid levels in people intolerant to statins (Annals of Internal Medicine​, Vol. 150, pp. 830-839).

Regulatory approval

Only recently the European Commission’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health deemed the ingredient to not be a novel food, a decision that facilitates the use of the ingredient in dietary supplements without having to undergo novel food approval.

Consideration of the ingredient’s status was requested by Belgium, and Italy confirmed that food supplement products containing red yeast rice were indeed on the Italian market before the Novel Food Regulation entered into law on May 15, 1997.

Study details

Led by Dr Paul Thompson from the University of Connecticut, the researchers collected data on 25 people who received red yeast rice supplements for at least four weeks, based on patient charts. All the patients were intolerant to statins, and noted adverse effects including muscle pain and gastrointestinal intolerance.

The data from the patients showed that red yeast rice was associated with a 15 and 21 per cent reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, respectively.

“This retrospective observational study of a clinical population demonstrated significant LDL cholesterol reductions with red yeast rice therapy in a population highly intolerant to daily statin use,”​ wrote Thompson and his co-workers.

The authors also noted the key limitations of their study, including that it was “small, unblinded, uncontrolled, and retrospective”​. They also note that patients selected their own red yeast rice preparation.

Source: The American Journal of Cardiology
Volume 105, Issue 5, Pages 664-666
“Lipid-Lowering Efficacy of Red Yeast Rice in a Population Intolerant to Statins”
Authors: C.V. Venero, J.V. Venero, D.C. Wortham, P.D. Thompson

Related topics: Research, Suppliers, Cardiovascular health

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