Prescription drugs and citrus fruit interaction can cause adverse side effects and reduce the efficacy of the drug. Grapefruit interaction with statins can affect the rate at which drugs are processed by the liver, says the US Food and Drug Administration. The interaction can be dangerous because the slower breakdown of a drug results in more drug in the bloodstream. This can cause side effects and affect the efficacy of the drug.
Statins are prescription drugs used to lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or bad cholesterol. They prevent the body from making more cholesterol and help in re-absorption of the cholesterol already present in the artery walls. Statins are prescribed only for people who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. People with a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol might need to take statins. As with any medication, taking the prescribed dose of statins is important, as high dosages are linked with increased side effects.
‘Grapefruit juice blocks the activity of an enzyme, cytochrome P450 3A4, in the wall of the small intestine that destroys statins and other drugs, and prevents their absorption into the body.’
AdvertisementHow Grapefruit Affects Statins Absorption?
Grapefruit is a sub-tropical citrus fruit with a very acidic and bitter-sweet taste. It is rich in nutrients and low in calories. It helps lower high cholesterol and lowers the risk for many diseases and conditions. Grapefruit is safe for consumption, but it is unsafe when it is taken together with statins and other drugs.
Grapefruit contains an organic chemical compound called as furanocoumarins that block an enzyme activity. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the chemical compound, furanocoumarins, inhibits the efficacy of an enzyme, cytochrome P450 3A4 that metabolize statins in the digestive system and balance the dosage that goes into the bloodstream. As furanocoumarins hinder this enzyme, the concentration of drugs increases in the body than it should be, which can cause side effects.
Side Effects Of Statins And Grapefruit Interaction
Consumption of just one grapefruit or one glass of grapefruit juice is enough to cause an interaction with drugs. According to the National Health Service, both fresh and frozen grapefruit juice have the same effect. The time between consumption of grapefruit and taking the medication, and the frequency of consumption, can also influence the side effects.
The interaction of grapefruit and statins increases the side effects of the drugs. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration, the interaction increases the risk of muscle breakdown, kidney failure and liver damage. Statins cause other side effects such as muscle and joint pain, increased blood sugar, digestive disorders, and neurological side effects, including memory loss and confusion. People over 65 years of age and women are at a higher risk for side effects from statins.
As many as 85 prescription drugs interact with grapefruit. Drugs that are used to treat nausea, urinary tract infections, heart conditions, immunosuppressants and anxiety drugs interact with grapefruit. However, not all statins interact the same way with grapefruit. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the drug interaction is strong only with two types of statins - simvastatin (Zocor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor).
Dr Steven Nissen, Cardiologist and Cardiovascular Medicine Department Chair at Cleveland Clinic's Heart and Vascular Institute, said, "Only certain statin medications interact negatively with grapefruit. This is an issue only for atorvastatin and simvastatin and is only problematic at the highest dosages."
The interaction between grapefruit and medications poses side effects only when the medication is taken orally as the interaction occurs in the digestive tract. Thus, it is safe to take medication through an injection, to avoid grapefruit interaction.
The interaction that occurs when grapefruit and statins are taken together differs from person to person. For people who take statins and grapefruit on the same day, it could cause side effects. Recent studies on grapefruit and statins interaction suggest that moderate grapefruit consumption can be compatible with taking statin drugs. However, it is safe to consult with a health expert about the risk while taking statins and grapefruit together or even avoid taking statins with grapefruit juice.