Fish Oil and Red Yeast Rice Studied for Lowering Blood Cholesterol April 16, 2010

In a recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (July 2008), a group of researchers from Pennsylvania studied the use of fish oil and red yeast rice as an alternative approach to treating high blood cholesterol for patients who are unable or unwilling to take statins – a widely prescribed medication (e.g. Crestor, Zocor etc.) for lowering cholesterol.

Researchers followed 74 patients with high blood cholesterol who met standard criteria for using statin therapy. Patients were randomly assigned to either the alternative treatment group or the statin group and followed for three months.

The alternative treatment group participants received daily fish oil and red yeast rice supplements, and they were enrolled in a 12-week multidisciplinary lifestyle program that involved weekly 3.5-hour educational meetings led by a cardiologist, dietitian, exercise physiologist and several alternative or relaxation practitioners. Red yeast rice is the product of yeast grown on rice. A dietary staple in some Asian countries, it contains several compounds known to inhibit cholesterol production.

The statin group participants received 40 milligrams (mg) of Zocor (simvastatin) daily, as well as printed materials about diet and exercise recommendations. At the end of the three-month period, participants from both groups underwent blood cholesterol testing to determine the percentage change in LDL cholesterol.

The researchers noted that there was a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in both groups. The alternative treatment group that used fish oil and red yeast rice experienced a 42.4 percent reduction, and the statin group experienced a 39.6 percent reduction. Members of the alternative therapy group also had a substantial reduction in triglycerides, another form of fat found in the blood, and lost more weight.

“Our study was designed to test a comprehensive and holistic approach to lipid lowering,” notes the study’s lead author, David Becker, M.D., a Chestnut Hill Hospital and University of Pennsylvania Health System cardiologist. “These results are intriguing and show a potential benefit of an alternative, or naturopathic, approach to a common medical condition.”

Other authors of this article include: Ram Gordon, M.D., Patti Morris, and Jacqueline Yorko, M.Ed., from Chestnut Hill Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Health System; Y. Jerold Gordon, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; Mingyao Li, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; and Nayyar Iqbal, M.D., from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center/University of Pennsylvania.

Original Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2008-rst/4902.html

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