Monday, June 16, 2008


The latest issue of the American Journal of Cardiology ( June 15th issue ) carries a study by Dr Zongliang Lu of Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, entitled "Chinese Coronary Secondary Prevention Study. This study studied the effects of the Chinese Red Yeast Extract ( Xuezhikang-XZK ) on CAD in China. The investigators enrolled 4780 patients who have had a heart attack, age 18-70 in a randomised, multicentered, placebo controlled, double-blind study. The treatment arm was given 300mg of the red yeast extract. The patients were followed for 5 years. At the end of 5 years, the treatment arm had a 45% event reduction in the primary endpoint, which was non-fatal MI and CAD death. There was improvement in all the secondary endpoints including cancer reduction. It is important to note that the degree of improvement and event reduction was higher then many of the "statin" trials of the 90s. When they analysed the red yeast extract they found that in contains Lovastatin, lovastatin hydroxyl acid and some ergosterol. It is also what gives "Peking duck " their bright colour. If you remember, Lovastatin ( mevacor ) the first statin, was actually a yeast extract, that was purified and marketed by MSD. When I read the abstract of the study, I did not get to see the adverse reaction to red yeast extract. I presume, like many Chinese, that since it is a natural product, it must be safe. I do not know that. I was quite fascinated by this study, as it shows me that we should be hearing more about traditional Chinese remedies, undergoing the rigors of western medicine study and proof. That is good as I belief that we can learn much from traditional chinese medicine. We just need to approach it with an open mind and look for proof and evidences. Looks like "statins "are under threat. I wonder what would be the results if we were to study the effects of eating "Peking Duck " on CAD and events? Looks like red yeast rice extract is good for our heart.

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