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Grapefruit-Drug Interactions Dangerous for Some, Useful for Others

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interactions between drugs and grapefruit may be dangerous for some Evgeny Karandaev/PhotoSpin

If you hanker for the tangy-sweet taste of grapefruit with your morning meal, better check the medicine cabinet first. Your citrusy obsession may interfere with your prescription medications.

Researchers have found that about six new drugs coming to market each year between 2008-2012 could cause a serious, potentially life-threatening drug-nutrient reaction if taken with fresh canned or frozen grapefruit, marinades and juice or sodas containing grapefruit or a few other citrus fruits. This was reported in a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The new additions dramatically expand the total number of drugs with serious grapefruit interactions from 17 to 43.

The researchers have known for a couple of decades now that grapefruit contains chemical compounds known as furanocoumarins that affect how some medicines are absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.

Your body may absorb too much or too little of the drug, so your dosage will be off and that can spell trouble.

When some of these drugs are taken with even one serving of grapefruit, serious interactions can occur within hours.

The natural chemical in grapefruit is also found in Seville oranges which are used in marmalade, as well as in limes and Asian pomelos, but not in table oranges, according to the study.

The list of such drugs includes commonly used cholesterol-lowering statins such as Zocor and Lipitor, and blood pressure medications such as Nifediac and Afeditab, the study noted.

The Ottawa Citizen reported, “The anti-clotting agent clopidogrel (Plavix), which is taken to prevent a heart attack or stroke, doesn't work 'at all' if grapefruit is taken with it."

Grapefruit interactions can cause such high concentrations of some drugs that it can bring about acute kidney failure, lead to digestive tract bleeding, respiratory failure, bone-marrow suppression (in compromised immune systems), and even sudden death, the study said.

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