Image: Flickr/lizcraft
Image: Flickr/lizcraft

They’re a rich source of vitamin C, fibre and potassium – so what could be so harmful about the humble grapefruit?

A lot if you’re also taking certain prescription medications, say health experts. Doctors have reportedly been aware of the dangers of combining grapefruit with certain medicines for some time. In 2008 health professionals were aware of 17 medications that negatively reacted with the citrus fruit.

The reason being that grapefruit contains a certain compound that affects how the body metabolises different medicines. This can cause toxic levels of drugs to escape the digestive system and enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to overdose, stomach bleeds, kidney damage and in serious cases, death. Bitter oranges and limes may also have this same effect, experts say.

Now following more research, Canadian scientists have identified a list of more than 85 drugs that are known to harmfully interfere with the breakfast fruit, with more than half potentially leading to serious side effects.

Some of the popular prescription drugs currently on the market, including statins like Lipitor, Zocor and Mevacor and the anticoagulant Plavix, are known to be harmful with the citrus fruit.

Other drugs found to interfere with grapefuit include some antibiotics heart medications, immunosuppressants, some cancer drugs and sedatives.

So is there ever a safe time to consume grapefruit? Unfortunately not if you’re taking medications on this list, experts say.

Five medicines in Australia known to react with grapefruit

Dasatinib - Cancer medication
Buspirone - Anxiety medication
Erythromycin - Antibiotics
Dextromethorphan - cough and cold medication
Atorvastatin - cholesterol medication

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