Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Grapefruit Juice: Can It Be Dangerous?

Rich in vitamins and minerals and a great source of potassium, pouring oneself a glass of grapefruit juice can often be considered a healthy move.  However, a 20-year old study discovered that the interaction between grapefruit juice and specific medications can have serious consequences.  Now, doctors say, the list of possibly serious drug reactions has only grown larger.

According to Katherine Zeratsky, registered dietitian, problems arise because the chemicals in the fruit can interfere with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) the medication in your digestive system.  This results in medication not staying in your body long enough to have an effect or, possibly worse, staying in your body too long, increasing to potentially dangerous levels and causing serious side effects.

The number of drugs that have the potential to interact with grapefruit juice has jumped to 85 and includes commonly prescribed medicines that fight infections, reduce cholesterol, treat high blood pressure and treat heart problems.  Others include medications to fight cancer or suppress the immune system in people who have received an organ transplant.

David Bailey, the clinical pharmacist who first discovered the dangerous interaction, states, “Taking one tablet with a glass of grapefruit juice is like taking 20 with a glass of water.  This is unintentional overdosing.  So it’s not surprising that these levels go from what we call therapeutic to toxic.”

A recent article in the Canadian Medical Journal, titled “Grapefruit medication interactions: forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?” underlined these problems and added that the interaction can happen even if the grapefruit juice was ingested hours before taking the drug.
The fundamental warning was this: if you are getting a new prescription, check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if it interacts with any foods or other medicines.  If you drink grapefruit juice, there’s a good chance it does.

Source:  Canadian Medical Journal
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