STAR-BULLETIN / 1999
The noni plant was used for traditional healing throughout Polynesia.
Noni juice might lower cholesterol in smokers
Isle research similar to the Illinois study on the plant is under way
Adult smokers drinking noni juice for a month had significantly lower cholesterol and triglycerides, University of Illinois College of Medicine researchers have found.
They reported results of a study of 132 current smokers yesterday at the American Heart Association's 46th Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in Phoenix.
Smokers were chosen for the study rather than nonsmokers because they tend to have higher cholesterol levels and are at greater risk for heart disease, said Dr. Mian-Ying Wang, University of Illinois assistant research professor and lead author of the study, according to an AHA news release.
The noni plant was used for traditional healing throughout Polynesia and has been promoted internationally for all kinds of diseases and health benefits.
But it is not known exactly what is in the substance or how it works on the body, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii researchers have said.
They have been looking at the effects of noni on people to see if the product does what commercial ads claim.
Carolyn Gotay, researcher and program director for the University of Hawaii cancer center's clinical science programs, said the University of Illinois study is exciting but needs to be confirmed with other studies.
"Any time a natural product seems to demonstrate a beneficial effect, it's worth following up," she said. "One study is never definitive."
The Illinois researchers used Tahitian Noni juice, which the company mixes with blueberry and grape juices because of noni's repugnant odor and taste.
They randomly assigned 13 men and 13 women to drink a juice similar to noni in look and taste and gave the real noni juice to 57 women and 49 men, AHA reported.
Participants, who ranged from 20 to 60 years old, did not know which juice they were drinking.
Their total cholesterol levels were higher than 190 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), and none was taking medicine to lower cholesterol.
Researchers said the group drinking 1 to 4 ounces of noni juice daily averaged a total drop in cholesterol from 235.2 mg/dL to 190.2 mg/dL, and average triglyceride levels dropped from 242.5 mg/dL to 193.5 mg/dL.
Total cholesterol and triglyceride levels rose slightly in the group drinking the juice without noni.
Wang said the results strongly indicate that noni juice might lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in current smokers, but it was a small study with limited participants.
He said a large clinical trial should be conducted in the general population to confirm the long-term effect on cholesterol.
Dr. Adrian Franke, specialist and professor at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, has been working since 2001 on a noni study conducted by Dr. Brian Issell.
Issell's group has been testing different doses of freeze-dried extract of noni on groups of patients.
Franke and Laurie Custer, research associate, have been analyzing noni's ingredients and blood and urine samples from patients to see what chemicals could have anti-cancer activity.
Franke said there are "a zillion" studies similar to the one reported by the Illinois researchers. "I'm not saying noni doesn't do it (what the group reported), but we should be careful with the conclusion."