Laser treatment can significantly reduce cholesterol, triglycerides, study finds

APRIL 1, 2009--A new study, designed to evaluate the efficacy of laser therapy for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride serum levels, revealed that 75 percent of participants realized an overall reduction in cholesterol serum of 16.1 points. Ryan Maloney, medical director of Erchonia Medical Inc. (McKinney, TX) is reporting the research results at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), which opens today in National Harbor, MD.

Maloney says his clinical study was originally designed to investigate how dissolved fat affects body chemistry. But while monitoring lipid and cholesterol levels, the research team discovered a trend indicating that laser light could disrupt cholesterol formation. "We know that cholesterol and its production are highly regulated by transcription factors, so the possibility to alter cholesterol serum levels theoretically exists," said Maloney. "Since low-level laser therapy was proven to affect transcription factors, we wanted to determine if laser therapy could serve as a subtle, non-invasive instrument to lower cholesterol and triglyceride serum levels."

Twenty volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65 participated in the non-controlled, non-randomized study. Participants received low-level laser treatments three times per week for two weeks, with each treatment session lasting approximately 40 minutes. Treatments were administered across the abdomen and waist area, and wrapping around the lower back--an area that generally contains the most concentrated pockets of subcutaneous fat. The laser produced 17.5 milliwatts of energy at 635 nanometers.

The 75 percent of study participants that demonstrated overall reduction in cholesterol serum levels, had a reduction ranging from -1.0 to -31.0 mg/dL. For those participants demonstrating an overall reduction in cholesterol serum levels, 93 percent experienced a reduction in LDL levels (commonly referred to as "bad cholesterol"), with 47 percent revealing a reduction in LDL levels without experiencing a reduction in HDL levels (or "good cholesterol"). Of the 20 participants, 60 percent demonstrated a reduction in triglyceride levels.

"We were incredibly surprised by these findings, especially given that we stumbled upon this observation by accident," said Maloney. "It's exciting to see laser technology shift in the direction of treating chronic conditions with the potential to one day serve as a viable alternative to leading prescription medications used to treat high cholesterol."

Maloney said this research is now moving into a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial expected to begin at multiple sites later this year. The clinical trial will investigate, among other things, the long-term effects of low-level laser irradiation on cholesterol and triglyceride serum levels in hopes of establishing treatment guidelines to ensure levels are maintained over time. "Low-level laser therapy is gaining popularity across the medical community as an effective form of preventative medicine, and I think this trend will certainly continue in the future," he said.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS) is a key resource for laser research, safety, education, and clinical knowledge. For more information please log on to the ASLMS website.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode,, for BioOptics World.

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