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Grapefruit juice may help cancer patients

August 10, 2012

Researchers believe a certain drink could improve the health of cancer patients, and it is one they might not expect. Grapefruit juice has shown promise in helping patients absorb medications, making them more effective and reducing the size of doses.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, comes out of the University of Chicago Medicine. While the juice has been known to interact harshly with some pharmaceuticals by raising the risk of overdose, scientists found that not to be the case in some cancer drugs. Specifically, grapefruit juice blocks certain enzymes in the intestinal wall that can slow the intake of the medication.

"We have at our disposal an agent that can markedly increase bioavailability [in this study by approximately 350 percent] and, critically in the current environment, decrease prescription drug spending on many agents metabolized by P450 enzymes," the authors wrote.

While the latest research highlights potential benefits for cancer patients, the tart fruit may also help in other aspects of healthy aging, experts say. Like many citrus fruits, grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamins C, A and B.

Although vitamin C is a vital part of a healthy diet for adults of all ages, for seniors it can be especially crucial. According to Discovery Health, the nutrient can help older adults fight conditions that are common with age including heart disease. Additionally, because it helps ward off free radicals, it can also help prevent the development of cataracts, macular degeneration and certain types of cancer.