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Health Shocker: Grapefruit Can Kill You

Potentially Fatal Fruit

Grapefruit. What was once thought of as a superfood—the breakfast of champions—has the potential to kill you if taken with certain prescribed drugs. Eating or drinking as little as 250ml of grapefruit juice can cause a potentially lethal interaction with more than 85 oral medications, according to new research from Western University. 

According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, in the past four years the number of meds with potentially adverse interaction with grapefruit has shot up from 17 to some 43.

"Half of these drugs actually can cause sudden death," said researcher David Bailey, a clinical pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ont. Such interactions can translate into "acute kidney or respiratory failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, or other serious effects."

A chemical in grapefruit conflicts with an enzyme, affecting how drugs are absorbed, potentially resulting in an overdose. Some affected meds include statins (used to lower cholesterol levels), heart drugs, anti-psychotics and certain pain medicines.

Other citruses with a similar effect include limes, pomelos and Seville oranges.

"Your urine looks like wine," said Bailey. "You can be in such extreme pain that you literally can't walk across the room and your kidneys have totally shut down.

Other drugs won't work at all if grapefruit is eaten. Best advice: if you're a grapefruit aficionado, check with your doctor before taking new meds. 

Photo via Flickr, CC