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By Nenad N. Bach | Published  01/3/2006 | Opinions | Unrated
(E) Immigration & Global Health by Jean Lunt Marinovic


Sugar-cane extract may favorably alter lipid level

Dr. Zeljko Reiner from University Hospital Center Zagreb in Croatia

Mon Nov 28, 2005 8:33 PM GMT
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The results of a new study provide more evidence that rice policosanol -- a mixture of alcohols extracted from sugar-cane wax -- has favorable effects on serum lipids.

In an 8-week study of 70 patients with very high cholesterol levels, 10 milligrams of rice policosanol daily significantly reduced total cholesterol concentrations in plasma and increased apolipoprotein A1 -- a protein portion of "good" HDL cholesterol that carries cholesterol in the blood.

Dr. Zeljko Reiner from University Hospital Center Zagreb in Croatia and two associates describe their study in the journal Clinical Drug Investigation.

The combination of high total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol and low "good" HDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, they note in the paper. Large studies have clearly shown that lowering elevated total and LDL cholesterol through diet, exercise, and cholesterol-lowering drug therapy is beneficial.

However, concerns regarding side effects of chemically derived cholesterol-lowering drugs have fueled interest in naturally derived agents, such as rice policosanol. This compound has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol in animal models, healthy volunteers, and in those with very high cholesterol levels.

The current findings from Reiner and colleagues support rice policosanol's favorable effects on serum lipids.

Compared with placebo, policosanol for 8 weeks significantly lowered plasma total cholesterol from 7.37 to 6.99 mmol/L and increased Apo A1 from 1.49 to 1.58 mmol/L, Reiner and colleagues report.

In this brief study, however, the researchers could not prove a significant reduction in triglycerides or LDL cholesterol or increase in HDL cholesterol with policosanol, as has been shown in other studies. It may be that the dose of policosanol used (10 milligrams daily) was too low and the duration of the study was too short, the authors offer.

There were no side effects from policosanol therapy.

Reiner and colleagues conclude that further study of rice policosanol as a potentially natural cholesterol-lowering aid is warranted.

SOURCE: Clinical Drug Investigation, November 2005.

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