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Red Yeast Rice Supplement Can Lower Cholesterol Levels

The herbal supplement offers an alternative for dyslipidemia patients who cannot tolerate statins

TUESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- The herbal supplement red yeast rice can help reduce low-density lipid (LDL) and total cholesterol in people who cannot tolerate statin therapy, according to a study reported in the June 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

David J. Becker, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues recruited 62 patients with dyslipidemia who discontinued statin therapy due to muscle pain. The patients were randomized to receive twice daily red yeast rice capsules (a total of 1,800 milligrams) or placebo for 24 weeks. All patients also were enrolled in a 12-week lifestyle program. The primary outcome was LDL level at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks. Secondary outcomes included weight change, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, liver enzyme, creatinine phosphokinase, and pain.

The researchers found that, at 12 weeks, mean LDL decreased by 43 mg/dL from baseline in the study group compared to 11 mg/dL in the placebo group. At 24 weeks, mean LDL decreased 35 mg/dL in the study group compared to 15 mg/dL in the control group. Total cholesterol levels also decreased for the study group at weeks 12 and 24 compared to the control group. The authors further note that there were no significant changes for other secondary outcomes.

"Red yeast rice and therapeutic lifestyle change decrease LDL cholesterol level without increasing creatinine phosphokinase or pain levels and may be a treatment option for dyslipidemic patients who cannot tolerate statin therapy," Becker and colleagues conclude.

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