Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grapefruit Juice, Lycopene, Drug Efficacy, etc.

I love ruby red grapefruit, in the morning and in the evening too. It seems Whole Foods has not been able to buy a sour grapefruit this season, and so I keep buying them a half dozen at a time.

As with all citrus, grapefruit boasts a good amount of vitamin C. Pink or "red" grapefruit also offers lycopene, perhaps the most powerful cancer-fighting dietary carotenoid, with the greatest capacity to scavenge cell-damaging oxygen free radicals.

Lycopene, importantly, is stored in the testes, prostate, and adrenal glands. According to a University of Toronto study:

"Although, the antioxidant properties of lycopene are thought to be primarily responsible for its beneficial properties, evidence is accumulating to suggest other mechanisms such as intercellular gap junction communication, hormonal and immune system modulation and metabolic pathways may also be involved."

Our Health Co-op used to offer lycopene in a softgel form, but the more we studied lycopene and tested the raw materials, the more we realized that lycopene is a delicate, finicky substance that is not so stable or useful when taken in supplemental form. It's far better to ingest lots of reddish-pigmented fruits, like watermelon, cooked tomatoes, apricots, papayas, etc. and get stable lycopene with the sundry phytonutrients that Mother Nature blended in to perfection.

Meanwhile, while scanning the news releases this morning, I noticed a piece on grapefruit juice and how it boosts the efficacy of drugs (by interfering with enzymes that break drugs down), as much as three to five times, enabling patients to take lower doses of pharmaceuticals.

Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center combined a mere 8 ounces of grapefruit juice with the drug rapamycin (an anti-cancer drug used to treat advanced solid tumors) and found that many patients experienced reduced tumor growth.

Alas, patients also experienced side effects that included elevated blood sugar levels, diarrhea, low white blood cell counts, and fatigue.

My take? Grapefruit juice, raw grapefruits, lycopene, all good. Grapefruit juice combined with drugs? Yep, genuinely valuable for folks who are not interested in a lifestyle overhaul.

However, the best approach, in my humble opinion? The dietary and lifestyle programs that authors like Patrick Quillin and Bill Henderson promote to intervene at the cellular roots of cancer.

If you follow Quillin's or Henderson's work, please leave a comment with your experiences for my readers.


Anonymous said...

Where does pharmacist Mike Ciel stand on grapefruit and drug interactions? I do not eat grapefruit nor do I drink grapefruit juice. This decision is based on information received from sources such as my pharmacy, the Mayo Clinic and other reputable sources regarding interaction between a drug I'm prescribed and grapefruit. The information I've received indicates that it doesn't matter how long you separate the grapefruit consumption from taking the drug. The interaction, if there is one, will still occur.

Cindy Marteney, CEO, Our Health Co-op said...

I cannot make recommendations on a specific drug question. You may want to pass along the information from the research on grapefruit juice and drug efficacy to your health care professional for an assessment on how to reduce meds (and side effects) while maintaining or improving your results.

It's always valuable to share good, evidence-based research with clinicians, who typically ignore anecdotal information and hold out for serious research studies they can evaluate. Good luck!