“People should not routinely be recommended to take plant sterols and stanols for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD).”

That’s the word from the London-based National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

“Cardiovascular disease” is a broad term that describes diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, and stroke. “Primary prevention” refers to the stopping the first heart attack from occurring.

The problem is a lack of evidence.

Yes, plant sterols and stanols reduce cholesterol levels. But it’s not known whether eating plant sterols as part of a low-fat diet provides additional benefit and whether they reduce CVD events.

NICE recommends, to test plant sterols and stanols in people at high risk of a first CVD event to determine “whether plant sterols or stanols change lipid profiles and reduce CVD events under best possible conditions.”

In this Functional Ingredients report, NICE also said medics should steer clear of advising patients to take omega-3 dietary supplements in a bid to head off CVD.

6/10/08 14:13 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.