Niacin for high cholesterol carries death risk

WASHINGTON:A major international study out found that niacin does not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with high cholesterol, but it does boost the risk of death.

Therefore, most people should not take the widely used supplement, also known as vitamin B3, according to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine that was published along with the results of the randomized trial.

Niacin has been gaining in popularity over the past 50 years and works mainly by raising “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels.

However, a four-year study on people aged 50-80 with high cholesterol found no benefit toward cutting the rate of heart attack or stroke.

The study included 25,673 people, all of whom were already taking statins to reduce their cholesterol. In addition, some were taking extended-release niacin and laropiprant (a drug that reduces face flushing caused by high doses of niacin). Others were randomly assigned to a placebo.

Research sites included Britain, China and Scandinavia.Niacin “was associated with an increased trend toward death” the findings said, adding that it was also associated with “significant increases in serious side effects: liver problems, excess infections, excess bleeding, gout, loss of control of blood sugar for diabetics and the development of diabetes in people who didn’t have it when the study began.”

Source: APP