Vitamin B3 emerges as best way to manage cholesterol

April 10th, 2009 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 10 (IANS) Scientists are likely to revive niacin as one of the best and cheapest ways to manage cholesterol, minus its side-effects, thanks to deft detective work by researchers.
Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, has long been regarded as one of the most effective weapons in managing cholesterol, lowering levels of triglycerides, fatty acids and to a lesser extent, the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) while boosting ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL).

But there’s a big side-effect. Patients avoid niacin because it often causes embarrassing, uncontrollable intense flushing, a rush of blood to the face and other skin surfaces accompanied by a prickling sensation.

Now, however, scientists have identified the discrete molecular pathways that are triggered when niacin enters the body. Their discovery may lead to a revival of niacin-based treatments as therapies of choice.

“This opens up whole new realms for drug discovery,” said Robert Walters, dermatologist at Duke University Medical Centre (DUMC) and lead study author.

“Not only could it lead to new niacin-based therapies for cholesterol that patients could actually stick with, but it could also mean new treatments for flushing that comes with some types of allergic reactions, hives and other disorders,” said Walters, according to a DUMC release.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Health and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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