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4 Little-Known Side Effects of Eating Grapefruit

Grapefruit has been under survey over the last few years for its potential side effects. If you eat grapefruit or drink it on a regular basis, this is something you should know. The positive thing is that it is safe for most people, but under some conditions, it may lead to some serious side effects.

These are the following circumstances that can lead to its side effects:

React With Other Drugs

Nutritionists recommend consuming grapefruit frequently in your diet due to its health benefits. However, the bad reputation of grapefruits has to do with how they react to certain drugs.

According to a study, furanocoumarins, a group of compounds in grapefruit and other citrus fruits have an effect on an enzyme in your intestines called CYP3A4.

The CYP3A4 enzyme controls the amount of drug absorbed into your bloodstream. Furanocoumarins prevent the proper functioning of this enzyme, which leads to drugs absorption in larger doses than the intended one thus causing an overdose.

Also, grapefruit can affect cholesterol and blood pressure drugs but this list of drugs tends to increase over time.

Drugs Which Can Interact With Grapefruit

The FDA has provided a list of some drug categories which can interact with grapefruit. They include:

  • Amiodarone: Antiarrhythmic medication which prevents and treats several types of irregular heartbeats. A single glass of grapefruit juice can increase the concentration of amiodarone.
  • Fexofenadine: Antihistamine used to treat allergy symptoms, including urticaria, hay fever, and nasal congestion. In the case of fexofenadine, grapefruit decreases the absorption and makes the drug less effective.
  • Statins: Group of drugs used to prevent heart attacks and strokes by lowering the level of cholesterol in the body. Simvastatin and atorvastatin are particular statins that react with grapefruit.
  • Nifedipine: Treats high blood pressure and angina.  If you take this drug with grapefruit, it could result in increased absorption.
  • Cyclosporine: Immunosuppressant which is usually prescribed to patients who had an organ transplantation. According to studies, grapefruit juice prevents the metabolism of cyclosporine.
  • Buspirone: Treats symptoms of anxiety, including dizziness, fear, tension and irritability. Grapefruit juice significantly increases buspirone concentrations.

Side effects of the grapefruit are limited to orally consumed drugs, due to the fact that grapefruit obstructs the process of the absorption. Keep in mind that the grapefruit does not react with all drugs.

Increased Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Whether grapefruit can decrease or increase the possibility of breast cancer is still unknown. In 2007, The British Journal of Cancer published a study which indicates that this fruit increases chances of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. However, flavonoids in grapefruits are high in anticancer properties which can affect the growth of the cancer cells.

Increased Risk Of Kidney Stones?

There is still a dispute whether grapefruit can cause kidney stones or not. Some believe that it can but on the other hand, some believe that it can reduce the risk. Kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate but can also contain other compounds.

Two studies were conducted to look at the effects of grapefruit. According to a 6-year study, whose participants were between the age of 40 and 75 years, 8 ounces of grapefruit juice a day can lead to 37% higher risk of kidney stones.

The shorter study noted that a regular consumption of grapefruit flushes out calcium, citrates and magnesium thus reducing the risk of kidney stones.

If we consider both of the studies, people who have history of kidney stones or experience some health conditions that can lead to their formation, should consume grapefruit juice in moderate doses. You may consume it but be cautious about it.

Here are some health conditions that can increase the risk of kidney stones:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s disease)
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gout
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Gout
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Renal tubular acidosis

Increased Risk Of Citrus Allergy

The family of citrus fruits includes oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits.  If you are allergic to some of these citrus fruits there is possibility that grapefruits can also trigger some allergic reaction.

Having an allergic reaction is not so simple because in severe cases it can be life-threatening.  A severe allergic reaction can cause anaphylaxis, which is serious and urgent medical attention is required.

The so-called citrus allergy contrary to its name is not caused by the citrus acid but by orange, mandarin, and grapefruit. How does the citrus allergy work?

You should know that is caused by immune responses to profiling and pectin (lipid transfer proteins). According to studies, there is also a connection between the allergens in the air and the food.

So, if you are exposed to grass pollen, the allergic reactions to profiling shall get stronger. If you already know about the citrus allergy and you have a history of the same allergy, we highly recommend that you avoid these fruits.

Tips How To Avoid The Side Effects of Grapefruit

  • Check medication guide or patient information sheet to see whether there is a recommendation to avoid grapefruit in the time when taking medication.
  • Consult with your doctor whether you should consume grapefruit in the time when taking medication. Also, don’t forget to check whether you should have other juices.
  • If you are already to forbidden to consume grapefruit, just to be on the safe side check the labels to ensure that there is no grapefruit.
  • Finally, on some labels of medication advice to avoid grapefruit or other fruit juices. You can read the Drug Facts label to be sure. Always do this if you are taking non-prescription drugs.

Fruits With Almost Identical Side Effects

The compound that causes drug reactions (Furanocoumarins) is also found in other fruits that are part of the citrus family. If you are allergic, you should also avoid pomelos, limes, tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit), seville oranges (used to make orange marmalade)and many others.

If you are careful and you do not mix it with other medications, you should not be careful about the side effects. Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C and A, lycopene (antioxidant), potassium,  and naringin (flavonoid).

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