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The American Heart Association Urges Caution On Cholestin

sy to take, cause few side effects and are very effective at lowering cholesterol levels, says Pearson.

Many studies have reported that lowering LDL cholesterol with statin drugs is associated with lower rates of heart attacks -- which is why the American Heart Association recommends statin drugs for cholesterol-lowering as a second step after lifestyle modifications including lowering fat in the diet.

"Red yeast rice, a strain of pulverized rice fermented with red yeast, is a Chinese condiment that has been used for many years contains several naturally occurring statins including lovastatin, a very effective agent for lowering cholesterol levels," says Pearson.

"Many people may assume that a naturally occurring substance, such as the red yeast rice, would be a more desirable choice for lowering their cholesterol, in comparison to prescription medications," says Pearson. "However, people need to take into consideration that comprehensive studies have been done only on the prescription statins, and we don't know if the naturally occurring statins behave in exactly the same way.

"Individuals who may feel more comfortable with ingesting a food product than a prescription drug may not realize that the red yeast fermented on rice used in Chinese cooking is used in much smaller quantities than the food supplement sold in the United States. Therefore, people may be venturing into the unknown by using the substance in much higher amounts than were used in Chinese cooking," says Pearson. In addition, although Cholestin is less expensive than some of the prescription drugs, many health care plans do cover statin drugs, but will not cover dietary supplements.

"At present, too little is known to make scientifically sound statements about whether the red yeast rice will be a new option in the treatment of elevated blood cholesterol. We can say that statin drugs, manufactured with high levels of quality control and used in a carefully monitored medica
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Contact: Darcy Spitz
dspitz@heart.org
212-878-5940
American Heart Association
25-Mar-1999


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