When it comes to taking medicine, common knowledge is to avoid mixing them with alcoholic beverages. But few people probably give a second thought to washing down the pills with a swig of a breakfast favorite, grapefruit juice.
The FDA has issued an updated warning, however, titled “Grapefruit Juice and Some Drugs Don’t Mix,” which states that eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking a number of prescription and OTC drugs can cause complications. The warning lists statin drugs to lower cholesterol (Zocor and Lipitor), drugs that treat high blood pressure (Procardia and Adalat, anti-anxiety drugs, and even common antihistamines such as Allegra, as examples of medications not to mix with grapefruit.
According to Shiew Mei Huang, PhD, of the FDA, when the some drugs are mixed with grapefruit juice, the juice lets more of the drug enter the blood, leading to more side effects. Grapefruit juice can block a vital drug-metabolizing enzyme from working, resulting in too much drug staying in the body. The warning cites that taking a lot of grapefruit juice with cholesterol-lowering drugs can increase risk of liver and muscle damage that leads to kidney failure.
While with some drugs, grapefruit juice can cause too much to remain in the body; with other drugs, the citrus can have the opposite effect. Recent studies cited by the FDA show that the citrus can actually block the antihistamine fexofenadine (Allegra) and prevent it from working. The warning also states that taking juice with these drugs may affect people differently. The takeaway? Read product labels and warnings carefully and always talk to your doctor. For the full consumer update, click here.
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