Widely-Used Nutritional Supplement Does Not Improve Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol levels and policosanol
A new study suggests that use of the nutritional supplement policosanol does not lower cholesterol levels any more than placebo, apparently contradicting the results of previous studies, according to a study in the May 17 issue of JAMA.
Policosanol is a natural substance produced from the waxy coating of sugar cane. Cuban sugar cane policosanol is sold in more than 40 countries mainly because of its supposed lipid-lowering effects, according to background information in the article. Numerous policosanol products from a variety of sources (sugar cane, wheat germ, rice bran, beeswax) are available over-the-counter and on the Internet in several countries.
Advertising emphasizes predominantly its reputed lipid-lowering effects, comparable with statins (prescription medications taken to lower cholesterol). Most of the published scientific literature, more than 80 trials, supporting the beneficial effects of policosanol on lipids has been authored by a single research group from Cuba. One clinical trial from the Netherlands showed wheat germ