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WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK — JULY 1, 2008 — announced today that its tests of ten red yeast rice supplements revealed levels of cholesterol-lowering statin compounds varying by more than 100-fold, with some supplements providing as much as prescription medication and others containing very little.  A potentially toxic contaminant, citrinin, was found in four of the products, with highest levels in a supplement sold by a national pharmacy chain.

Red yeast rice naturally contains the cholesterol-lowering statin compound lovastatin, the active ingredient in prescription Mevacor. Labels on red yeast rice products, however, generally do not disclose their lovastatin content due to concern that the supplement will be considered a drug by the FDA and removed from the market. This makes it difficult for consumers and doctors to assess and compare red yeast rice supplements, although they remain widely used.

A separate clinical study published today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that a red yeast rice supplement along with fish oil and lifestyle changes reduced LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels by 42%. This compared to a 40% decrease among people treated with the drug simvastatin (40 mg/day) and traditional counseling.  The study was sponsored by the State of Pennsylvania and the lead investigator was David Becker, MD, a cardiologist.  As noted in the paper, Dr. Becker utilized to analyze the constituents of the red yeast rice and fish oil supplements. Other studies with red yeast rice have also shown significant declines in LDL cholesterol, including a UCLA study in 2001 and study from China published last month which additionally demonstrated a reduction in recurrent heart attacks. Each study used a different red yeast rice preparation.

Commenting on's new report, Dr. Becker said, " is providing a much-needed market guide to what is actually in these potentially useful supplements."

According to the American Heart Association, over thirty percent of Americans have elevated LDL cholesterol (130 mg/dL or higher), placing them at higher risk of heart attack and stroke.  Red yeast rice naturally contains lovastatin and a variety of other compounds, such as the hydroxy acid form of lovastatin and plant sterols, which may act synergistically to lower LDL cholesterol.   Because of this mixture of compounds, red yeast rice may be effective in some people who do not respond to marketed pharmaceutical statins. It is also possible that the side-effects may be different. Side-effects seen in patients treated only with lovastatin may be diminished because of the lower amount of lovastatin in typical dosages of red yeast rice.

The new report on provides test results and comparisons for ten products selected by Brands included are Cholestene (HPF), Chole-sterin (Atrium), Healthy America, Natural Balance,  Nature's Plus, Schiff, Solaray, VegLife, Walgreens, and 21st Century. Reviews of many other popular supplements are available from  Product reviews to be released online in coming months cover melatonin, vitamin A, menopause supplements, and nutrition bars. is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. The company is privately held and based in Westchester County, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.  Subscription to is available online.

Report available at

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