Preventive low-dose statin medication reduced LDL cholesterol in patients without heart disease more than dietary supplements and a placebo. In a trial using fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice, participants who took rosuvastatin 5 mg once daily for 4 weeks had an average 37.9% reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Sadly, in reality, as per Luke Laffin, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, who presented the SPORT trial, a garlic supplement elevated LDL cholesterol by 7.8% over placebo (P=0.01). At the same time, the results appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. He advocated for the SPORT study data to be used in evidence-based talks with patients who must lower LDL cholesterol. He cited the lack of gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, or neurological adverse effects beyond the norm among statin users as a source of comfort.
The results from the SPORT trial are being released at a moment when statins as well as other heart medications are having trouble winning over patients despite substantial evidence of their cardiovascular advantages.
Meanwhile, “heart health” nutritional supplements are all over the market and they are extremely popular. According to Laffin, it is not unusual for patients to be taking anywhere from ten to twenty different supplements, and many people who are prescribed a cholesterol-lowering prescription instead choose to take a supplement.
The lack of usefulness isn’t even the worst thing about these pills. The dietary supplement market is virtually unchecked. During an interview, Janani Rangaswami, MD, cautioned that no one knows what exactly goes into supplements and that she has seen supplement-related kidney damage firsthand in her clinic.
To add insult to injury, Laffin claims that persons who take nutritional supplements on top of their regular drugs run the risk of experiencing hazardous drug-drug interactions. The 90,000 supplements available now lack sufficient safety data.