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A Kobayashi Pharmaceuticals spokeswoman confirmed the latest hospitalisation cases without elaborating further Image: AFP
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Japan health supplements linked to 157 hospitalizations

22 Comments

Japanese dietary supplements at the center of an expanding health scare have now been linked to at least 157 hospitalizations, a health ministry official said Tuesday.

The figure reflects an increase from the 114 hospitalization cases that Kobayashi Pharmaceutical said on Friday were linked to its products containing red yeast rice, or beni koji.

A Kobayashi spokeswoman confirmed the latest hospitalization cases without elaborating further.

On Friday, Kobayashi said it was investigating five deaths potentially linked to the dietary supplements, which are meant to lower cholesterol.

The government and the company are probing whether the supplements caused the deaths and other health problems, mostly with kidneys.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical announced on March 22 that it was recalling three kinds of over-the-counter tablets containing beni koji after customers reported kidney problems.

Red yeast rice consists of rice fermented with a mould culture. It has been used in food, alcoholic drinks and folk medicines for centuries around East Asia.

Kobayashi has said that it detected a potentially toxic acid produced by the mould at one of its factories.

Government officials have been carrying out inspections at the firm's facilities in recent days.

The scandal has dominated headlines in Japan and was a trending topic on social media, where it has also sparked disinformation posts and conspiracy theories.

Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is a household name in Japan, offering a wide range of health-related products.

The company has said it also sold red yeast rice to around 50 other firms in Japan and two in Taiwan. Some of those companies have preventively recalled food products containing the ingredient, including a rose-colored sake and a salad dressing.

Taiwanese companies have preventively recalled 154 products containing red yeast rice in the wake of the scare, the island's health authorities said.

A woman in her 70s in Taiwan had also reportedly developed kidney failure after taking Kobayashi's supplements for several years.

© 2024 AFP

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Since the low point, the stock price has been going gangbusters; up nearly 4% today.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Taking into account the much lower standard of testing and safeguards that supplements have compared with medical products the surprising thing is that these kind of problems do not happen more often.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Another problem is that people taking supplements (for lowering cholesterol, etc.) could in many cases have some kind of underlying illness that they were trying to cure with anything available out there. To prove that the supplement itself caused their demise, and not the underlying illness, or anything else, will be a knotty task in many cases where relatives come forwards to bring up the death of another loved one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Supplements often cost more than prescribed drugs.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Supplements are not covered by insurance. Anywhere. Prescribed meds are.

The only way to know that your cholesterol level is outside normal levels is with a blood test. Which means you saw a doctor. If the numbers warrant it the doctor would prescribe medication. So why are these people taking supplements?

Frankly I think it is wromg for any pharmceutical company to market supplements. The company name alone misleads the consumer into thinking that the supplements are tested to the same standards as medication. This is something that needs to be addressed through law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cholesterol: A superhero not a villain

Transporting building blocks and nutrients in addition to fending off bacteria (infections) as part of our immune response

Higher levels of LDL cholesterol are protective and increase longevity.

average total cholesterol in Japan is about 184. In the US? About 143. Which country has a greater longevity?

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  The true drivers of CVD.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  The true drivers of CVD.

Links to any respected medical organizations that agree with this assertion?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

StrangerlandToday  03:50 am JST

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  The true drivers of CVD.

Links to any respected medical organizations that agree with this assertion?

He's right. This is the growing (yet not fully established) consensus among researchers, cardiologists, etc.

There is tonnes of research, reports, and books online in all formats. You can find an overwhelming amount of material from a quick search - try Google Scholar for starters.

Cholesterol does not cause coronary heart disease in contrast to stress (tandfonline.com)

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14017430801993701

Full article: LDL-C does not cause cardiovascular disease: a comprehensive review of the current literature (tandfonline.com)

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17512433.2018.1519391

"For half a century, a high level of total cholesterol (TC) or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been considered to be the major cause of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD), and statin treatment has been widely promoted for cardiovascular prevention. However, there is an increasing understanding that the mechanisms are more complicated and that statin treatment, in particular when used as primary prevention, is of doubtful benefit."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

He's right. This is the growing (yet not fully established) consensus among researchers, cardiologists, etc.

Interesting. Links to any respected medical organizations recommending:

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  

Respected medical organizations follow the science, and as it becomes accepted, they make recommendations. That's because many studies come with caveats, cannot be replicated, have not been replicated, or whatnot, so they, as professionals, keep on top of current science to make recommendations.

Linking to a few studies only shows those studies. I would like to see that a respectable medical organization has decided that in their expert opinion, based on current science, you do not need to lower cholesterol. Otherwise it's internet detectives thinking their google skills make more sense than a medical organization.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

StrangerlandToday  08:19 am JST

He's right. This is the growing (yet not fully established) consensus among researchers, cardiologists, etc.

Interesting. Links to any respected medical organizations recommending:

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  

Respected medical organizations follow the science, and as it becomes accepted, they make recommendations. That's because many studies come with caveats, cannot be replicated, have not been replicated, or whatnot, so they, as professionals, keep on top of current science to make recommendations.

Linking to a few studies only shows those studies. I would like to see that a respectable medical organization has decided that in their expert opinion, based on current science, you do not need to lower cholesterol. Otherwise it's internet detectives thinking their google skills make more sense than a medical organization.

Yes, I hear you. However, unfortunately, were not at that point yet.

Complete concesus of the scoiegict community goes at a snails pace even when the evidcne is clear. You can ither wait for it to cathc up or look at the evidnce that is there now and make your own decissionms

4 ( +4 / -0 )

StrangerlandToday  08:19 am JST

He's right. This is the growing (yet not fully established) consensus among researchers, cardiologists, etc.

Interesting. Links to any respected medical organizations recommending:

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  

Respected medical organizations follow the science, and as it becomes accepted, they make recommendations. That's because many studies come with caveats, cannot be replicated, have not been replicated, or whatnot, so they, as professionals, keep on top of current science to make recommendations.

Linking to a few studies only shows those studies. I would like to see that a respectable medical organization has decided that in their expert opinion, based on current science, you do not need to lower cholesterol. Otherwise it's internet detectives thinking their google skills make more sense than a medical organization.

Well, the links I gave you are from respectable medical journals.

Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology 

Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal.

I hear you, but we're not quite there yet, unfortunately.

Getting everyone in the scientific community on the same page takes forever, even when the evidence is crystal clear. And sometimes, even when they do get there, they still mess up, like in this case.

So, you can either hang tight for them to catch up or take a look at the evidence we've got now and decide for yourself.

There are plenty of highly qualified and regarded researchers, cardiologists, etc. who do not believe that cholesterol is the main cause of heart disease. Read and listen to the evidence and decide for yourself, or don't.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So, you can either hang tight for them to catch up or take a look at the evidence we've got now and decide for yourself.

I think I'll wait for respected medical organizations to "catch up" to your googling. That does seem to be the course of action that makes sense to me.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

StrangerlandToday  09:44 am JST

So, you can either hang tight for them to catch up or take a look at the evidence we've got now and decide for yourself.

I think I'll wait for respected medical organizations to "catch up" to your googling. That does seem to be the course of action that makes sense to me.

Yep, all good. Most people will do this.

Let's not brush aside the reasonable perspective I'm offering here, though.

As I mentioned, the reports I provided are from respected medical journals, and there are plenty of other credible sources like research papers, books, and talks by cardiologists and professors. This isn't just me randomly searching online; it's based on solid research and expert opinions.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Let's not brush aside the reasonable perspective I'm offering here, though.

I think I will brush it aside, thanks. I always place the recommended advice of respected medical organizations over anonymous internet posters. Always.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

My body struggles to produce enough insulin. I need more not less.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION.  The true drivers of CVD.

Yes, very true.

Links to any respected medical organizations that agree with this assertion?

Naah, if medical organizations ever agreed to such assertions, they would be kissing good-bye to much of their funding. I don't consider them respectable...

One difference between supplements and meds is that the makers of the latter have lots of power to maintain silence regarding their side effects.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

if medical organizations ever agreed to such assertions, they would be kissing good-bye to much of their funding.

Ahh, so it’s a conspiracy. Interesting theory.

So who do you trust?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yes, very true.

Actually you need to normalize many different things, including the "bad" cholesterol.

Naah, if medical organizations ever agreed to such assertions, they would be kissing good-bye to much of their funding. I don't consider them respectable...

Global conspiracies that include every recognized institution of science in the world are not arguments, they are excuses for not having those arguments in the first place.

If the scientific community of the world recognize institutions as respectable then that is enough, if nameless people on the internet do not agree with this perfectly valid argument this have no importance. Is like saying that a flat-earth organization do not recognize the NASA as respectable, that would deny nothing about the institution value.

One difference between supplements and meds is that the makers of the latter have lots of power to maintain silence regarding their side effects.

Both are multibillion industries, the real difference is that medicines have much stronger and strict controls compared with supplements, so companies looking for the easy way out produce exclusively the latest without putting the effort to develop or even guarantee the first.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Raw BeerToday 01:55 pm JST

You DO NOT need to LOWER CHOLESTEROL, you need to LOWER INSULIN/INFLAMMATION. The true drivers of CVD.

> Yes, very true.

> Links to any respected medical organizations that agree with this assertion?

> Naah, if medical organizations ever agreed to such assertions, they would be kissing good-bye to much of their funding. I don't consider them respectable...

> One difference between supplements and meds is that the makers of the latter have lots of power to maintain silence regarding their side effects.

A number of papers have been published in lesser known but still highly respected medical journals and I inc,uded two links below if you;re interested. It's true that the bigger journals are highly cautious anout anything that bucks the trend which is one of the (many) problems with science today.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

One difference between supplements and meds is that the makers of the latter have lots of power to maintain silence regarding their side effects.

Both are multibillion industries, the real difference is that medicines have much stronger and strict controls compared with supplements, so companies looking for the easy way out produce exclusively the latest without putting the effort to develop or even guarantee the first.

Multibillion in total, but the meds are made by a few large companies. Big Pharma can sponsor research, "news" networks, the Oscars...

The supplement hospitalizations and deaths became major news. I'm still waiting for any mention of the many hospitalizations and deaths caused by the Big Pharma products used during the pandemic...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Multibillion in total, but the meds are made by a few large companies

That also applies to supplements, that represent huge amount of profits for a few and a tiny extra for many, once again this is not an argument against drugs but against supplements that can be as dangerous but require less control so they are a much easier way to make money.

The supplement hospitalizations and deaths became major news

So are those with medications, the huge difference is that medications have to at least prove they offer benefits, supplements not, so the risks and problems frequently come without any benefits to offset them. HCQ was for example used without actual justification during the pandemic thanks to baseless recommendations and they produced thousands of extra deaths, this is something well reported.

It's true that the bigger journals are highly cautious anout anything that bucks the trend which is one of the (many) problems with science today.

Bigger journals routinely accept papers that change paradigms, but only when the reports have evidence of enough quantity and quality to tilt the balance, being published in a minor journal can be something that happen because the conclusions are not specially well supported by the evidence (low quality/quantity data), because the discussion do not refutes properly the current understanding or simply because the methods are not appropriate for the study, minor journals are more likely to let this things pass thru pre-publication peer review.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Multibillion in total, but the meds are made by a few large companies. Big Pharma can sponsor research, "news" networks, the Oscars...

Ahh yes, the ol' "Big Pharma".

So who do you trust?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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