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Relationship between functional foods and adherence to statins

It’s thought that people using functional foods with approved health claims may be less likely to adhere to prescribed drug therapy.

Researchers in The Netherlands assessed the influence of the use of phytosterol/-stanol-enriched functional foods on adherence to statin (cholesterol-lowering) therapy among patients initiating treatment.

Phytosterols lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in people with normal and high levels of cholesterol, and in people with diabetes.

First, the details.

  • New statin users were randomly assigned to receive either usual care or extensive pharmaceutical care consisting of 5 individual counseling sessions.
  • Customary use of phytosterol/-stanol-enriched products was identified by questionnaires filled out by all participants.
  • Automated pharmacy-dispensing records were used to assess adherence in terms of discontinuation of therapy and the medication possession ratio.

And, the results.

  • The use of functional foods enriched with phytosterols/stanols was not related to discontinuation of statin therapy under any conditions.

The bottom line?

With or without counseling, these patients seemed to understand the importance of taking the statin drugs.

The authors concluded, “In daily medical practice, general practitioners and pharmacists should urge subjects not to take phytosterol/-stanol-enriched functional foods as replacement for their prescribed medication.”

6/21/11 21:04 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, a complementary and alternative medicine website.