News

Copyright © 2017 Natural Medicines (www.naturalmedicines.com)
July 2014

Niacin Might Cause Harmful Side Effects

Contrary to previous findings, a new study suggests that niacin does not benefit heart health, and might increase the risk for serious side effects.

Niacin has been a commonly-accepted treatment for high cholesterol. Previous research shows that niacin (not niacinamide) has benefits on levels of high-density cholesterol (HDL or "good cholesterol"), with better results than drugs such as "statins" like atorvastatin (Lipitor®). There are also benefits on levels of low-density cholesterol (LDL or "bad cholesterol"), although these effects are less dramatic. Adding niacin to a second drug such as a statin might increase the effects on low-density lipoproteins.

In a new study, researchers randomly assigned 25,673 adults with heart disease to receive 2 grams of extended-release niacin and 40 milligrams of laropiprant, which is commonly used in combination with niacin, or placebo. All participants were also being treated with a statin medication. Major heart disease-related events, such as heart attack, death or stoke, were the main outcome measure of the study.

Throughout the average 3.9 year follow-up period, people who were given the niacin treatment had LDL levels that were an average of 10 milligrams per deciliter of blood lower, and HDL levels that were an average of 6 milligrams per deciliter of blood higher than those in the placebo group. However, people treated with niacin did not have any decreased risk for a heart disease-related event. Niacin significantly increased the risk for problems with blood sugar control in people with diabetes, and also increased the risk for a diabetes diagnosis. Furthermore, niacin use was linked to an increase in many different serious side effects, including gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, bleeding, infection and skin-related adverse effects.

The authors concluded that while niacin increased HDL and decreased LDL, it had no effect on the risk for heart disease-related events, and increased the risk for serious side effects.

For information about niacin, please visit Natural Standard’s Food, Herbs & Supplements Database.

References

  1. HPS2-THRIVE Collaborative Group, Landray MJ, Haynes R, et al. Effects of extended-release niacin with laropiprant in high-risk patients. N Engl J Med. 2014 Jul 17;371(3):203-12.
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2017 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.