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Grapefruit Can Interact with Prescription Meds: Researchers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of prescription medications may interact harmfully with grapefruit and its juice, according to a review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Doctors say the fruit can intensify the dosage of some drugs, possibly leading to sudden death, kidney or respiratory failure, and internal bleeding.

Chemicals in the grapefruit suppress an important enzyme in the human body, said Paul Doering, professor emeritus of pharmacy at the University of Florida. “If grapefruit juice is there first, it kind of takes hostage the systems that get rid of the drug and inactivates them,” allowing more of the prescription medication to get into the system, he added.

Researchers say the interaction can occur even if the grapefruit or its juice is consumed many hours before medication.

“I would recommend people stagger them by at least 12 hours if they could,” or cut out grapefruit juice altogether, Doering said.

“It's a very serious situation,” said Doering. “I'm sad to say that not all health professionals are up to date on the ins and outs of this issue.”

“My advice to consumers would be, if they love eating citrus or specifically eating grapefruit, they should ask: is there any problem with eating grapefruit?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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