Thursday, May 18, 2006

Trendy supplement doesn't lower cholesterol

Trendy supplement doesn't lower cholesterol
Wed May 17, 2006 8:23 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Policosanol, touted as a natural way to
treat high cholesterol levels, appears to be useless, German
investigators report in this week's Journal of the American Medical

Policosanol is an extract of the waxy coating of sugar cane and other
plants, and multiple trials have demonstrated that it safely lowers
lipid levels. However, Dr. Heiner K. Berthold and his colleagues note
that almost all of these studies came from one group in Cuba, whose
research was funded by Dalmer Laboratories, which markets policosanol.

In an attempt to confirm their findings, Berthold, from the Drug
Commission of the German Medical Association in Berlin, and his team
performed a "rigorously controlled" multicenter study comparing Cuban
sugar cane-derived policosanol with an inactive "placebo" supplement.

Their study involved 143 Caucasian adults with LDL ("bad") cholesterol
levels of at least 150 milligrams per deciliter.

Participants were randomly assigned to policosanol at doses of 10, 20,
40 or 80 milligrams daily or placebo. After 12 weeks, the researchers
saw no statistically or clinically significant effect on LDL cholesterol
at any dose.

Similarly, the investigators report, there were no significant
differences among the groups in HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, total
cholesterol, very low density-cholesterol, triglycerides, or lipoprotein(a).

Berthold's team concludes that "more independent studies are required to
counterbalance the vast body of available positive trials." They also
hope to see trials showing patient-related outcomes, such as
cardiovascular illness and mortality.

The study was sponsored by Madaus AG, an international company
specializing in plant-derived drugs, which does not manufacture or
distribute any cholesterol-lowering drugs.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, May 17, 2006.

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