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Lipitor: What You Need to Know

        Health | Medications

Lipitor and Grapefruit
Sorry, grapefruit lovers. The fruit and its juice are off-limits when you're on certain medications.
Sorry, grapefruit lovers. The fruit and its juice are off-limits when you're on certain medications.
© iStockphoto.com/benedek

If you like starting the day with a big glass of refreshing grapefruit juice, that morning tradition will have to be one of the dietary habits you change when you start taking Lipitor. Even though the habit sounds healthy enough, it could have life threatening consequences. Lipitor is one of many drugs that has adverse effects when combined with grapefruit juice.

­When grapefruit juice is consumed, it's metabolized by certain enzymes in the liver -- the same enzymes that break down Lipitor in your body. Essentially, if the enzymes are too busy metabolizing the grapefruit juice, then the medication can't be broken down, which results in an overabundance of it in your system. That can lead to some of the more serious side effects we mentioned on the previous page, such as rhabdomyolysis, in which muscle pain leads to kidney problems.

In 2006, researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill identified chemicals known as furanocoumarins as the substance in grapefruit juice that might be tying up those enzymes, which means there's a potential for furanocoumarin-free grapefruit juice in the future [source: University of North Carolina School of Medicine]. Until then, check the warning label on all of your prescription drugs carefully; grapefruit juice can have negative interactions with about 50 medications [source: University of Rochester Medical Center]. This is also the perfect time to find a new favorite juice, as grapefruit juice is the only fruit juice that reacts negatively with medications.

For more information on popular prescription drugs, see the links on the next page.

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