"Since the 1970s, human studies have reported that red yeast lowers blood levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein/LDL ("bad cholesterol"), and triglyceride levels." - Mayo Clinic, Red Yeast Rice research
Doctors often prescribe statin drugs to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. These drugs, which interfere with the liver's production of cholesterol, are relatively safe for most people but sometimes can cause muscle problems known as statin-associated myalgia (SAM). Some patients who cannot tolerate statins because of muscle problems use the dietary supplement red yeast rice as a cholesterol-lowering alternative. In light of previous findings that red yeast rice can reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad" cholesterol), researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University investigated the effects of this supplement in patients with high cholesterol and a history of SAM. The study was funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with additional support from NCCAM.