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Grapefruit juice and medication can be a dangerous mix

Grapefruit juice can be dangerous for people on certain medications, nurse researchers remind doctors, nurses, and everyone who takes medicine and enjoys grapefruit juice, in a paper in the American Journal of Nursing, a journal of the American Nurses Association.

Amy Karch, R.N., M.S., of the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester Medical Center reported on a man from a northern climate who moved to Florida for the winter - one of tens of thousands of "snowbirds" who head south each winter - and began drinking two to three glasses of grapefruit juice each day. The man became critically ill as a result of an interaction between grapefruit juice and his cholesterol-lowering medication.

Karch's paper, "The Grapefruit Challenge: The juice inhibits a crucial enzyme, with possibly fatal consequences," appears in the December 2004 issue of the journal. Interactions between grapefruit juice and medications have long been recognized. Last year, the Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics devoted an entire issue to grapefruit juice and the dangerous drug interactions that can result. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration requires all prospective new drugs that are thought to interact with this enzyme system to be tested for interactions with grapefruit juice. And a warning about grapefruit juice is included in the "food-drug interactions" that come with dozens of medications. Nevertheless, Karch says many health-care professionals and patients don't know about the risk.

"The potential of drug interactions with grapefruit juice has been out there a long time, but most people just aren't aware of it," says Karch, a clinical associate professor of nursing. "There is so much information bombarding people all the time, that a lot of people may have heard this but forgotten it. But the problems can be life-threatening." The patient profiled in Karch's article had high cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiac disease. The doctor put the
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
17-Jan-2005


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