According to an article in the most recent issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the number of serious, adverse effects from drug interaction with grapefruit juice has risen at an alarming rate. Even though information about this juice and its potential for harmful interaction has been known for more than 20 years, incidents continue to occur, and surprisingly, have been on the rise. Interactions are not restricted to grapefruits; they also can result from ingesting Seville oranges, limes, and pomelos – all of these are foods containing the active ingredient furanocoumarin.
Why the increase in incidents? According to Dr. David Bailey, Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario, the number of medicationswith the potential to negatively interact with furanocoumarin has risen between the years 2008 and 2012. Consequently the opportunity for adverse reactions has also risen.
A Globe and Mail article lists the types of drugs that can potentially interact with furanocoumarin, which include some: anti-cancer agents, heart drugs and central-nervous-system drugs used to treat pain, and medications used for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Serious health reactions include sudden death, acute kidney failure, GI bleeds, bone marrow suppression in individuals already immunocompromised, and renal toxicity.
To get more information, read the Globe and Mail article listed above, or read the Science Daily article, “Grapefruit – medication interactions increasing”.
If you have a CMAJ membership, you can read the full article, “Grapefruit – medication interactions: Forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences?” available on the CMAJ website.