Six supplements that people commonly take for heart health don’t help lower “bad” cholesterol or improve cardiovascular health, according to a study released Sunday, while statins do. It was helpful.
Some people believe that common dietary supplements such as fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice lower “bad” cholesterol. Known “bad” cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries. It can cause heart attacks and strokes.
In this study, presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2022 and published concurrently in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers compared the effects of these specific supplements to the effects of low-dose statins (cholesterol). Lower the drug – or a placebo that does nothing.
The researchers conducted this comparison in a randomized, single-blind clinical trial in 190 adults with no history of cardiovascular disease. Study participants were between the ages of 40 and 75, and different groups took a low-dose statin called rosuvastatin, a placebo, fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, or red yeast rice for 28 days.
Statins had the greatest effect and significantly reduced LDL compared to supplements and placebo.
The average LDL reduction after 28 days of taking statins was nearly 40%. Statins also lowered total cholesterol by an average of 24% and blood triglycerides by 19%.
Those who took the supplement did not experience significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, or blood triglycerides, and the results were similar to those who took placebo. However, there were many numerical problems in the group that ingested plant sterols or red yeast rice.
“We designed this study because many of us are trying to recommend evidence-based treatments that reduce cardiovascular risk to our patients, telling them, ‘No, I’m going to try this supplement.’ – Author Dr. Karol Watson is a Professor of Medicine/Cardiology and Co-Director of the UCLA Program in Preventive Cardiology. “We wanted to design a very rigorous, randomized controlled trial study to prove what we already know and show it in a rigorous way.”
Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of the study, says patients are often unaware that dietary supplements have not been tested in clinical trials. He calls these supplements “the snake oil of the 21st century.”
In the United States, the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act of 1994 severely limited the ability of the US Food and Drug Administration to regulate dietary supplements. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which companies must prove to be safe and effective for their intended use before they can be marketed, the FDA does not need to approve dietary supplements before they can be marketed. Only after they are proven to be unsafe can they enter the market and the FDA can intervene to regulate them.
“Patients believe they can be saved because studies have been done and it’s as effective as statins and it’s natural, but natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, it just means it works.” But no.
This study was funded by an unrestricted grant from AstraZeneca, which manufactures rosuvastatin. The study found that the company had no opinion on methodology, data analysis, and discussions of clinical relevance.
The researchers acknowledged some limitations, including the small sample size of this study and the fact that the 28 study periods may not capture the effects of the supplement if used over a long period of time.
In a statement Sunday, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group for the dietary supplement industry, said, “Supplements are not intended to replace medications or other treatments.”
“Nutritional supplements are not intended as first aid and their effects may not be apparent over the course of a study that lasts just four weeks,” said Andrea Wong, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Group. said in a statement.
Dr. James Shireddu, an invasive cardiologist and medical director of the University Hospital Harrington Cardiovascular Institute at University Hospital Bedford Medical Center, said the study could be helpful.
“They did a great job collecting the data and looking at the results,” said Cireddu, who was not involved in the study. “It will probably resonate with patients. People ask me about supplements a lot. I think this does a great job of providing evidence.”
Dr. Amit Khera, chair of the AHA Scientific Sessions Programming Committee, was not involved in the research, but said he considered it an important study to include in this year’s presentation.
“I take care of my patients every day with these exact questions. Patients always ask about supplements instead of or in addition to statins,” says Preventive Cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. said Khera, professor and director of “With high-quality evidence and well-done studies, I think it’s really important to help inform patients about the value, or in this case, the lack of value, of these supplements for cholesterol lowering.”
Statins have been around for more than 30 years and have been studied in more than 170,000 people, he said. Consistently, studies show that statins reduce risk.
“The good news is that we know statins work,” says Khera. “That doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Not everyone needs it, but it’s been found to work for people who are at higher risk, and it’s well documented. Do something different.” If you’re going to do it, you have to make sure it works.”
He said he often sees misinformation online about supplements.
“I think people are always looking for ‘natural’ things, but there are a lot of problems with that terminology and most importantly, see if they work. That’s what this study does,” he adds Khera. “It’s important to ask if they’re taking proven treatments, or if they aren’t, doing it in place of proven treatments. That’s a real concern.”