Pine Bark Extract Doesn't Improve Cardio Risk Profile

Comparisons to placebo for blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin, other factors show no benefit
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among subjects with elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, pine bark extract, a dietary supplement rich in antioxidants, does not significantly improve CVD risk profiles, according to a study in the Sept. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Rebecca L. Drieling, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues randomized 130 subjects with elevated CVD risk to once-per-day 200 mg doses of pine bark extract or placebo. The researchers compared the subjects' CVD risk factors at baseline and at six and 12 weeks.

By week 12 of the study, the researchers found that changes from baseline in the pine bark extract group compared to the placebo group were not significant for any of the risk factors tracked, including sum of the systolic and diastolic blood pressures, body mass index, lipid panel measures, liver transaminase, lipoprotein cholesterol particle size, insulin, lipoprotein(a), fasting glucose, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Nor were any benefits for CVD risk factors identified in analysis by subgroup for sex, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and others.

"This pine bark extract (at a dosage of 200 mg/d) was safe but was not associated with improvement in cardiovascular disease risk factors. Although variations among participants, dosages, and chemical preparations could contribute to different findings compared with past studies, our results are consistent with a general failure of antioxidants to demonstrate cardiovascular benefits," the authors write.

The study was supported by a research grant from Toyo Shinyaku Co. Ltd., which provided the study tablets (both pine bark extract and placebo).

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