Next time you see “Revolutionary New Cure for Cancer”

28 05 2013

From XKCD

XKCD Does it again. I do wonder if webcomics are the future to public health. Though this post deserves some explanation with examples in the future.





vodka grapefruit!

28 04 2013

I wonder a lot and I don’t always find answers to my questions, but when I do, it’s fabulous 🙂

Caveat: Ain’t encouragin’ no drinkin’ here. Photo by Vikingfjord US

This is a story of how a bunch of researchers discovered the wonders of Grapefruit. All medics know that grapefruit juice has certain compounds which affect how the body processes certain drugs. I took that for granted until one fine day, I asked myself, “How did they figure that out?”. Did doctors, while taking a history of a patient with some trouble with their drugs, ask if they had soy sauce, maple syrup on their waffles or grapefruit juice for breakfast? Did they then do the same thing with other patients with similar problems and see a pattern? I have rarely heard a physician go into that much detail about diet so I doubted that explanation. I looked up the literature (kidding, I just googled it) and uncovered an interesting story.

Sometime, either in the late 80s or early 90s, David Bailey and his team of Canadian researchers were doing experiments to see if consuming alcohol together with the blood pressure drug felodipine made any difference to the drug’s effectiveness. The participants were split into two groups, one was given alcohol plus the drug, and one, just the drug. To avoid the placebo effect, the experiment needed to be conducted in such a way that the subjects did not know whether they were having alcohol or not.  Turns out one way to do this is to use a mixer. Specifically grapefruit juice, the sharp taste of which would mask the taste of alcohol. When they ran tests on the levels of drug in the subjects’ blood, they found out that the drug levels were way higher than expected, even in the grapefruit juice group.  And that friends, is how we discovered the effects of grapefruit juice.

It turns out that pomelo and lime juice can also affect drug processing, while orange juice seems safe.