How a Grapefruit Can Put Your Health at Risk

How a Grapefruit Can Put Your Health at Risk


Many drugs warn you about the dangers of eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice when you take them.

Drugs such as Lipitor, Amiodarone (Cordarone), BuSpar, Propulsid, Plavix, Robitussin DM, Estrogens, Calcium channel blockers, most sedative medications, Pulmicort, Prozac, and nearly all statin drugs are affected by grapefruit.

Even caffeine changes in your body under the influence of grapefruit juice.

While the body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it, grapefruit might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine.

Drinking grapefruit while taking caffeine might increase the side effects of caffeine including jitteriness, headache, and a fast heartbeat.

At the moment over 85 drugs have known grapefruit interactions, and 44 of those interactions can be serious.

How in the world can this fruit create all these problems?

The dangers of grapefruit and drug interactions were discovered by accident in 1989 by a group of scientists who were trying to figure out how alcohol affected a drug called Plendil.

In order to get a double-blind study, they needed to mask the taste of alcohol and they found grapefruit juice did the job.

But then the Plendil went nuts.

And it happened to everyone who drank grapefruit juice.

It took two years before anyone believed them that the problem was the grapefruit juice.

And the medical journal Lancet published their study.

Why the juice was such a danger was the next big question.

According to Wikipedia, the reason is CYP3A4.

They say the enzyme, which is found in the liver and in the intestine, oxidizes small foreign organic molecules such as toxins or drugs so that they can be removed from the body but this can have dramatic and unexpected results when it comes to drug interactions.

So, when you take a statin with grapefruit juice, you get more of the side effects.

Many people asked, “well if it increases the power of the drug, can you take less of it?”  Unfortunately, no.

The effect of the interaction is highly unpredictable.

It’s not a question of it being a citrus fruit, orange juice does not have this effect.

And the list of drugs that are affected by grapefruit juice keeps growing every year.

Many doctors warn their patients about the dangers of grapefruit juice, but especially the elderly who seem to take the most medicines which are affected by grapefruit juice interactions.

It’s not just drug interactions that should make you wary of grapefruit.

Because of its high potassium content, it can cause kidney problems in people who are in the beginning stages of renal problems.

And those who suffer from long-term acid reflux, also known as GERD, can suffer tremendous stomach pain after eating grapefruit.

Grapefruit alters the amount of pepsin in your stomach, and even a powerful antacid won’t stop the pain.

Many years ago, there was a fad called the Grapefruit Diet.  The belief was that grapefruit was a “magic” fat burning fruit.

There isn’t anything magic about eating grapefruit.  A medium grapefruit has approximately 100 calories, and some vitamins and minerals along with fiber.

Too much and you will end up like anyone who gets too much dietary fiber from high-fiber foods like grapefruit which can cause gastrointestinal side effects including stomach cramps, gas, and diarrhea.

But something that is not reported widely is the possible link between grapefruit and breast cancer. reports:

“A cohort study conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the ‘British Journal of Cancer’ in 2007 concluded that grapefruit intake had an association with a significantly increased risk of breast cancer for post-menopausal subjects who ate one-quarter grapefruit or more per day, compared to non-consumers.

“Study researchers theorized that eating too much grapefruit might increase the risk of estrogen-dependent cancers like breast cancer. This is because grapefruit inhibits an enzyme involved in metabolizing estrogen.”

In short, if you are going to swallow this bitter fruit be aware of the possible dangers.