Recently, concerns regarding the safety of red yeast rice (RYR) have been raised after the publication of some case reports claiming toxicity. Since the previous meta-analyses on the effects of RYR were mainly focused on its efficacy to improve lipid profile and other cardiovascular parameters, we carried out a meta-analysis on safety data derived from the available randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs).
Primary outcomes were musculoskeletal disorders (MuD). Secondary outcomes were non-musculoskeletal adverse events (Non-MuD) and serious adverse events (SAE). Subgroups analyses were carried out considering the intervention (RYR alone or in association with other nutraceutical compounds), monacolin K administered daily dose ( 5 mg/day), follow-up (> 12 or
Data were pooled from 53 RCTs comprising 112 treatment arms, which included 8535 subjects, with 4437 in the RYR arm and 4303 in the control one. Monacolin K administration was not associated with increased risk of MuD (odds ratio (OR) = 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53,1.65). Moreover, we showed reduced risk of Non-MuD (OR = 0.59, 95%CI 0.50, 0.69) and SAE (OR = 0.54, 95%CI 0.46, 0.64) vs. control. Subgroups analyses confirmed the high tolerability profile of RYR. Furthermore, increasing daily doses of monacolin K were negatively associated with increasing risk of Non-MuD (slope: -0.10; 95%CI: -0.17, -0.03; two-tailed p <0.01).
Based on our data, RYR use as lipid-lowering dietary supplement seems to be overall tolerable and safe in a large kind of moderately hypercolesterolaemic subjects.