Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Health System have broken new ground in their study of bad cholesterol. They have revealed that fish oil and yeast rice supplements can effectively lower bad cholesterol levels. This, they say, is a better treatment option than statins.
During the study involving 74 patients with high blood cholesterol, researchers found that alternative therapy with fish oils and yeast rice supplements significantly lowered bad cholesterol level by 42 percent.
The patients were randomly assigned to either the alternative treatment group or the 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, dietician, 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.
They found a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol levels in both groups.
The alternative treatment group 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," said 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," he added.
Dr. Becker acknowledges that a larger, multicenter trial with longer follow-up is necessary to determine long-term compliance with the alternative regimen.
The study appears in the July issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.