Why Can't I Have Grapefruit with My Statin?

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How do statins interact with grapefruit?

Statins are broken down in the liver by a select group of enzymes that also interact with chemicals in grapefruits. Elements in grapefruit can attach to these enzymes and change how they process medications. In the case of statins, grapefruit can block metabolism, so the statins remain in your body for longer than expected.

When statins stay in the body too long, they can cause a number of unpleasant or harmful side effects, the most common being muscle pain (aka. myopathy). In fact, eating grapefruit while taking statins can increase the risk for these adverse events up to five times! Fortunately, this interaction only applies to grapefruit, and will not occur with any other fruits or vegetables.

Is grapefruit unsafe with all statins?

There is hope if you really enjoy grapefruit. Not all the statins have the same dangerous interaction with grapefruits. The effect is only seen with Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), and Mevacor (lovastatin). Lipitor and Zocor are the most widely used statins in the country, so many people associate all statins with the grapefruit restriction. In reality, the ban on grapefruit is only specific to the above three statins in particular.

It’s fine to continue enjoying your grapefruit with Pravachol (pravastatin), Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), and the newest statin, Livalo (pitavastatin). If you love grapefruit or grapefruit juice, one of these alternatives may work for you. Pravachol and Lescol are both low-potency statins, so keep in mind that you may end up needing higher doses if you switch to either of these.

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