Is Grapefruit bad for chemo patients? The answer used to be “bad” across the board, but recently it has been discovered it’s actually “good” for some.
Why is it bad? Excellent question and one I found hard to describe when writing the book, so I just said to ask your doc (which you should always do before acting on anyone’s advice, especially mine).
Well, it’s high time we delved into the details together don’t you think? Especially since the word on the street is that things are changing even with this and there are some cases when consuming this Barbados bastard child of the Jamaican Sweet Orange and the Indonesian Pomelo can actually improve your odds for beating cancer. Who knew? Isn’t that just like life to take an absolute and go and show us an exception?
I have been a huge fan of grapefruit for as long as I can remember. I don’t quite know what the attraction is other than I like/crave it and so I drink it in almost daily, so giving it up during chemo was a tough order to follow. I snuck it here and there during the first two rounds, but by the third I’d gone through a tearful confrontation with Jen RN and that was that. Disappointing/worrying her was far more detrimental than any harm grapefruit could do, in my mind (which tells you what a powerful force Jen can be).
Here’s the gist of why grapefruit is a no-no during chemo: If you want to sound all medically educated when you talk about it around the water cooler today then say it like this; “It’s a drug interaction issue. Grapefruit juice slows activity of certain enzymes that metabolize specific drugs, making the current dosage less effective. This builds drug levels in a person’s body to dangerous levels.”
To cement it in my head I decided to do a a visual of me taking a pill once a day for 100 days. Because I’m eating/drinking grapefruit, that pill isn’t desolving like it should so now I have 100 half to 1/4 disolved pills in my body. No wonder they weren’t fixing what needed fixing and now, worse than that I’m putting another pill in my body which means that 20 days later I’ve got 120 half disolved pills in my body that along with the daily pill are dispersing enough meds to kill and elephant. Too much of a good thing is definitely no bueno.
This isn’t just for chemo patients. Certain drugs from cholesterol medication to antihistamines have this same cause and effect relationship with grapefruit. This image courtesy of Helen Lee McComas and the Canadian Medical Association Journal spells it out better than I could.
Okay, well that’s the bad about grapefruit, but you know how I like to finish on a high note, so let’s cover the good about my beloved (best mimosas ever) grapefruit: good source of vitamin C, fiber, lycopene (antioxidant) helps lower cholesterol, slows glycemic index and helps the body burn fat and now the University of Chicago released a study stating that grapefruit can play a major role in the effectiveness of a far less expensive cancer drug. That’s right. As if I needed a reason to love grapefruit any more…
Sirolimus (sir oh’ li mus) is the drug and it’s original use was for transplant patients, but these clever ones at UC tested it out on cancer patients and found it was really effective. This article by Sydney Lupkin spells it out nicely.
I love it when someone can take a bad thing and turn it around and lead researcher Dr. Ezra Cohen says it best, “We saw that not as a problem but as an opportunity to enhance the pharmacology to not only sirolimus but to a wide range of drugs. We’re talking about cutting those costs by a half to a third.”
Imagine that a simple fruit that costs under $5 for 5lbs at my local grocer can reduce chemo costs by up to a half. What does that mean? Well, for me, my chemo treatment costs were about $4,000 per month. Lucky for me I had insurance that picked up 3/4 of that tab, but still…
What will they discover next? I don’t know, but I’m glad they’re searching and I’m glad you are reading this because the more we know, the less afraid we are and the less afraid we are, the better prepared we’ll be to face whatever obstacles come our way.
As promised, this week I’m giving ten people a chance to win something cool. This one is for those who’ve already read the book, possibly one of the many that took advantage of our the free digital download of the 2nd edition earlier this month. This is your chance to have a signed copy in hand to use or to pass on to someone if the need arises.
Here’s your moment to be among our Top 10~
Here’s your opportunity to be among our top ten reviewers. First ten people to post a review for the 2nd edition on either Kindle or Paperback on Amazon.com will receive a signed copy of *The C Card and Me – How I beat stage IV cancer (to a pulp) – 2nd edition~
*After submitting the review, send us a message either on our The C Card and Me facebook page or at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The top ten reviewer winners will be announced on The C Card and Me facebook page. We’ll collect information for shipping directly from you then – Thanks and best of luck in everything~
P.S. Congratulations Brad Rehn for being the first to post the correct answer to today’s Q&A Giveaway~