Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Real Quackery

According to the Daily Mail the ingredient used to colour Peking duck can cut the risk of dying from heart disease by a third and cancer by two-thirds.

Researchers looking at red yeast rice said the benefits of the Chinese food colouring even seemed to outstrip those of statins - the much vaunted cholesterol-lowering drugs. Describing the effects as ' profound', they said extract of the fermented rice could play an important part in improving heart health.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the government told us that we needed to take more Statins to lower Cholesterol.
GPs were being asked to trawl through patient records to pick out "high-risk" patients who would benefit from them. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) estimate 1.5m extra adults will need treatment. at an estimated cost of of £50m initially and £35m annually.
Now it looks like we just need to pop down to the local Chinese Takeaway to sort it all out. Maybe Chinese Herbal medicine has a real benefit!

P.S. For an explanation to the actual study behind this see this article. It concludes
This study provides good evidence that the red rice extract XZK reduces “bad” cholesterol and subsequent cardiovascular events in Chinese people who have already experienced a heart attack. This finding is not surprising, as this extract contains lovastatin, a cholesterol-lowering compound that is already known to reduce cardiovascular risk.
People tend to think that substances extracted from plants must be better for us than “medicines”, and cannot be harmful. However, this is not the case. The contents of medicines such as statins are carefully tested and regulated, and they contain known concentrations of the active drug. Substances sold as health supplements are not so strictly regulated, therefore their contents may vary widely and cannot be guaranteed to be safe. For this reason, people who are concerned about their risk of heart attack or their cholesterol levels should talk to their GP, who may prescribe them a statin, rather than taking red rice extracts.

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