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Grapefruit & Medications

August 22, 2013

Grapefruit can interact in potentially dangerous ways with a variety of prescription medications.



Grapefruit’s hidden risks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.


Drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to wash down certain medications can cause a toxic drug overdose. In rare cases, this has led to cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and other life-threatening conditions. According to clinical pharmacologist David Bailey, a digestive enzyme called CYP3A4 breaks down much of the oral medication we ingest, allowing only a small percentage of it to reach the bloodstream. Because of this, drug manufacturers put much more medication in each pill than you actually need. But a chemical in grapefruit inactivates the enzyme.

DAVID BAILEY (Lawson Health Research Institute):

And what happens is it boosts the amount of drug that gets absorbed into the bloodstream, so you’re getting an increased effect.


Bailey says 85 drugs are currently known to interact with grapefruit. He recommends that grapefruit lovers consult with their doctors or pharmacists to find out if any of their medications are on that list. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.