Why can people on statins not eat grapefruits ?

Why can people on statins not eat grapefruits?

11 January 2017

Thank you for contacting Health at Hand.

It is known that grapefruits contain a group of chemicals, furanocoumarins, which can alter drug metabolism – the amount of time it takes for a drug to be broken down by the body.

Grapefruit juice increases the level of statins e.g. simvastatin, lovastatin and atoravatatin in your blood and makes side effects more likely. Atorvastatin interacts with grapefruit juice if you drink large quantities (greater than 1.2 litres daily).

The chemical furanocoumarin inhibits an enzyme (cytochrome P450 3A4) that breaks down statins, this can result in more ‘active’ drug to be present in the body than was intended with the prescribed dose therefore triggering an unpleasant, and sometimes serious, side effects (e,g, Rhabdomyolysis).

Rhabdomyolysis breakdown of muscle fibres resulting in the release of muscle fibre contents e.g. myoglobin which breaks down into substances that can damage the kidney, had been reported when atorvastatin was taken with daily grapefruit juice, and when simvastatin was taken when the patient was also eating whole grapefruit daily.

We hope that is of some assistance to you.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses

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