A Chinese supplement could help lower cholesterol in patients unable to tolerate statin drugs, ABC News reports. Extract of red yeast rice, a form of fermented rice that has been used in China for many centuries in medicine and food, is naturally rich in the active ingredient in the drugs. A recent Chinese study found the extract dramatically cut the risk of heart patients suffering a repeat attack, the London Times reports.
Heart experts are split on the benefits of using the widely available supplement. Some doctors say they often recommend it to patients; others worry that the red yeast products available could do more harm than good because of contaminants or widely varying amounts of the active ingredient.