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Sugar Cane Cholesterol Treatment Faulted

Rating

4 Star

Sugar Cane Cholesterol Treatment Faulted

Our Review Summary

Overall, this is a good piece that reports on a recent study that found policosanol to have no effect on low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This observation differs from the previously published work on this compound, most of which has been conduced by a single research group in Cuba.

Although this product is readily available as a nutritional supplement, this new study calls into question the whether policosanol has any benefit in terms of reducing LDL cholesterol.

This article failed to mention some of the pharmaceutical and lifestyle interventions that have actually been demonstrated to reduce LDL cholesterol. This is one weakness in the article — there is ample evidence regarding other prescription medications that do improve LDL cholesterol — and alternative treatments . These should have been mentioned.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There were no cost estimates for policosanol either as sole ingredient supplement or when included in a multi-vitamin preparation.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The article reported that there was no difference in LDL cholesterol levels after 12 weeks of treatment between the ‘dummy pill’ and policosanol group.

The article neglected to mention that the study reported no severe adverse effects of policosanol.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although policosanol was reported to be ineffective in lowering LDL cholesterol, the article failed to explicitly mention that – by definition – a harm of treatment is inadequate treatment of elevated LDL cholesterol.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

This article reports on the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It reported on the controversy that policosanol has previously been reported to reduce LDL cholesterol in studies sponsored by the Cuban sugar cane industry and Cuban government. – But the results of the new study differ markedly from these.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

This article did not appear to engage in disease-mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

This piece included comments from several sources, including a spokesperson from the manufacturer of One-A-Day vitamins which contains policosanol in at least one formulation and a quote from a spokesperson from a trade group with interest in supplement sales. In addition, it appears that an attempt was made to get a statement from the Cuban scientific center that has sponsored the studies in Cuba of this compound.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

This article failed to mention some of the pharmaceutical and lifestyle interventions that have actually been demonstrated to reduce LDL cholesterol. This is one key weakness in the article — there is ample evidence regarding other prescription medications that do improve LDL cholesterol — and alternative treatments . These should have been mentioned.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The article mentioned that this supplement is widely available from internet as well as brick and mortar stores. It would have been helpful to explicitly state that policosanol is available over-the-counter without a prescription.

As a nutritional supplement, policosanol requires no FDA approval for sale, information that would have been informative to include as well.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Although policosanol has been suggested by some as a natural substance that can be used to reduce cholesterol, the novelty reported on in this article was that a carefully designed study found it not effective in lowering LDL cholesterol.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

It’s clear that the story did not rely solely on a news release, because at least one comment in the story came from the journal article’s “Discussion” section, and was not included in the JAMA news release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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