TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- A natural cholesterol-lowering supplement called red yeast rice could pose the same health risks to users as statin drugs, a new study contends.
Red yeast rice could increase risk of muscle injury or liver damage, Italian researchers reported after reviewing 13 years of patient data.
"These findings raise the hypothesis that the safety profile of red yeast rice is highly similar to that of synthetic statins and warrants further investigations to finally characterize the safety profile of red yeast rice," the researchers concluded.
American heart experts said it's not surprising that the researchers discovered adverse reactions to red yeast rice that are similar to those produced by statins.
That's because one of the compounds in red yeast rice -- monacolin K -- has the same chemical structure as the statin drug lovastatin, said Dr. Paul Thompson.