Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two daily doses of probiotics can lower bad cholesterol

This appears to be a commercial study that has not been peer reviewed and goes against the general finding of little or no  relationship between diet and serum cholesterrol

Yoghurt fans have yet another reason to tuck in to a pot - the dairy snack is good for the heart. Researchers found two daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood as well as "bad" and total cholesterol.

Probiotics are live micro-organisms - naturally occurring bacteria in the gut - thought to have beneficial effects. Common sources are yoghurt or dietary supplements.

In previous studies, a formulation of the bacteria, known as Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, has lowered blood levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol.

Study lead author Doctor Mitchell Jones, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said researchers are increasingly looking at the role probiotics can play a in treating chronic diseases such as heart disease.

The researchers investigated whether the same probiotic could lower LDL and reduce blood levels of cholesterol esters - molecules of cholesterol attached to fatty acids. This combination accounts for most total blood cholesterol and has been tied to cardiovascular disease risk.

They tracked cholesterol esters bound to saturated fat, which have been linked to dangerous arterial plaque build-up and occur at higher levels in coronary artery disease patients.

The study involved 127 adults with high cholesterol. About half the participants took L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day, while the rest were given placebo capsules.

Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6 per cent lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Cholesterol esters were also reduced by 6.3 per cent and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 per cent, compared with the placebo group.

Dr Jones said for the first time the research shows that the probiotic formulation can reduce cholesterol esters 'and in particular reduce the cholesterol esters associated with 'bad' saturated fatty acids in the blood.'

And people taking the probiotic had total cholesterol reduced by 9.1 per cent. HDL 'good' cholesterol and blood triglycerides, a dangerous form of fat in the blood, were unchanged.

Scientists have proposed that Lactobacillus bacteria alone may impact cholesterol levels in several ways, including breaking apart molecules known as bile salts. L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 was fermented and formulated to optimisze its effect on cholesterol and bile salts.

Based on correlations between LDL reduction and bile measurements in the gut, the study results suggest the probiotic broke up bile salts, leading to reduced cholesterol absorption in the gut and less LDL.

The probiotic worked at doses of just 200 milligrams a day, far lower than those for soluble fibre or other natural products used to reduce cholesterol.

Dr Jones, co-founder and chief science officer of Micropharma - the company that formulated the probiotic, added: 'Most dietary cholesterol management products require consumption between two to 25 grams a day.'

He said patients appear to tolerate the probiotic well and the probiotic strain L. reuteri has a long history of safe use.

Because of the small number of patients involved in the study, researchers aren't sure if the impact of the probiotic differs between men and women or among ethnic groups.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.


Gout medicine may halve heart attack risk

This appears pretty amateurish so far -- so replication under a high level of control is needed before the effect is accepted

A MEDICATION commonly used to treat gout has been found by a Perth-based study to reduce the chance of a heart attack in some patients by up to 50 per cent.

Doctors from Perth's Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will present their findings to the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions conference on Tuesday (Australian time), after a study of more than 500 coronary patients over several years.

The anti-inflammatory drug Colchicine has been used for years to reduce the swelling symptoms related to gout, the painful inflammatory arthritis often brought on by excessive food and alcohol.

But advancements in thinking around coronary disease, and the fact blocked arteries might become fatal because cholesterol cells become inflamed, prompted Dr Peter Thompson and his colleagues to take an "educated guess" about the potential of Colchicine.

"We have done a clinical trial with this drug and we have found that when you administer this on a steady, low-dose basis with people with coronary heart disease, you can actually halve heart attack risk," Dr Thompson told AAP from Los Angeles.  "So far it is only a smallish trial but it looks very exciting and interesting.

"We went to this one (Colchicine) knowing that it was a very likely candidate, and the results are very satisfying."

Delegates at the conference have already been raving about the study into the effectiveness of low-dose Colchicine - or LoDoCo as it has been dubbed - saying it could become one of the big breakthroughs in heart disease research this year.

Dr Thompson, from Sir Charles Gairdner's Heart Research Institute, ran the study along with colleagues Dr Mark Nidorf and Canada-based Dr John Eikelboom.  They will publish the full results of the study in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology later this month.

Dr Thompson says the study could be doubly significant because Colchicine is a low cost, readily available product already on the market, and would therefore not take years in development costs and trials.

"There are other drugs being developed to target particular pathways in the inflammatory process, but they are all going to be brand new drugs which take a long time to develop," Dr Thompson said.  "This is a widely available, relatively inexpensive, relatively innocuous drug that has been with us for generations - and this may end up being the one to go for."

Dr Nidorf, also based in Perth, ran much of the study via his own private practice without traditional funding, with the ethics of the study continually being checked by the hospital.  "That is quite a remarkable thing to be able to do," Dr Thompson said.


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