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Policosanol did not improve lipids.

The supplement policosanol, which is touted for its lipid-lowering effects and is popular worldwide, did not lower lipids appreciably in a multicenter, randomized clinical trial, reported Dr. Heiner K. Berthold and associates at the University of Cologne, Germany.

Dozens of studies have reported that policosanol, a mixture of long-chain primary alcohols derived primarily from sugar cane wax, lowers LDL cholesterol as effectively as do statins, without side effects. But "virtually all of the published scientific literature supporting the beneficial effects of policosanol on lipids has been authored by a single research group from Cuba," they wrote.

Almost all of these studies were funded by "a commercial enterprise founded by the Center of Natural Products" in Cuba to market Cuban policosanol. "Our trial is the first study to investigate sugar cane-derived policosanol independently from [this] research group but still using Cuban policosanol," they said (JAMA 2006;295: 2262-9).

Dr. Berthold and colleagues randomly assigned 129 hypercholesterolemic patients at 14 clinical centers in Germany to one of five groups, to receive 10, 20, 40, or 80 mg of policosanol or placebo daily for 12 weeks. The usual recommended doses are 10 and 20 mg/d. All the patients were white; their mean age was 56 years, and their mean LDL cholesterol level was 187 mg/dL at baseline.

Policosanol did not decrease LDL cholesterol at any dose, beyond the small (less than 10%) reduction noted with placebo. Policosanol also had no appreciable effect on total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, very-low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, or lipoprotein (a).

"A considerable health-food-store and Internet market has extended the development of nonprescription policosanol, and worldwide sales are constantly increasing," they noted, calling for other independent studies of policosanol's purported efficacy to counterbalance the vast body of available positive trials.
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Author:Moon, Mary Ann
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 15, 2006
Words:292
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