Nutrition Action Healthletter
April 1999 — U.S. Edition


It may be made from red yeast grown on rice, but over-the-counter Cholestin lowers blood cholesterol about as much as Mevacor and other prescription “statin” about one-fifth the cost.

   In November 1997, we wrote about the dietary supplement that seemed to work like a drug (“Cholesterol-Lowering Supplements,” p. 8). But the first U.S. study testing Cholestin wasn’t released until last February.

   Among 83 people with high cholesterol, the 42 who took Cholestin for 12 weeks lowered their total cholesterol by an average of 16 percent (to 210).1 Cholesterol stayed at about 250 in the 41 people who were given a (lookalike but inactive) placebo.

   What’s now needed, say the study’s authors, are studies that look at Cholestin’s long-term safety and effectiveness in a larger population.

   Don’t take Cholestin without telling your doctor. Anyone who takes either Cholestin or statin drugs should be regularly checked for liver and muscle damage.—Bonnie Liebman

1 Amer. J. Clin. Nutr. 69: 175, 231, 1999.
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