Friday, November 24, 2006

Sugar cane extract doesn't lower cholesterol

Sugar cane extract doesn't lower cholesterol
By Anne Harding 12 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study adds to growing evidence that an
extract from Cuban sugar cane does not help lower cholesterol levels.

A number of plant products work well for cutting cholesterol, such as
plant sterols used in margarine and other foods, Dr. Peter J. H. Jones,
Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Functional Foods at the
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, told Reuters Health. But it looks
increasingly as if Cuban sugar cane "policosanols" are not one of these
products, he said.

Jones and his colleague, Dr. Amira N. Kassis, had 21 healthy men and
women with high cholesterol eat 10 milligrams of policosanols daily or a
placebo for 28 days. After an additional 28-day "washout period," the
study participants were switched to placebo or policosanols.

Jones and Kassis found no effect of the policosanols on any measure of
participants' cholesterol.

While dozens of human and animal studies from one lab based in Cuba have
shown dramatic cholesterol-lowering effects approaching those of statins
for policosanols, studies done elsewhere have shown no effect, the
researchers note in their report in the American Journal of Clinical

Proponents have suggested that perhaps only Cuban sugar cane extracts
will work, but Jones and Kassis used the same type employed by the Cuban
lab, as have other researchers recently, without seeing results.

It remains remotely possible that Cuban individuals have some sort of
genetic difference that makes them react differently to policosanols, or
that they eat so many policosanols in their normal diet that
supplementation with the extract has more of an effect than it would in
other people, Jones said.

The current study, Jones said, underscores the need for more scrutiny of
herbal product claims. The policosanol extract, he noted, is being sold
for a dollar a pill around the world.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2006.

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