Friday, January 9, 2009

Scurvy is bad, unintended pregnancy is worse

by Laura Smith-Gary

I am a grapefruit junkie, because it is a fabulous food. Sweet and tart and juicy, fun to eat (I recommend picking it apart with your fingers so you get every bit), beautiful ruby red flesh, packed full of scurvy-fighting vitamins and antioxidants, seasonal in the winter... it's wonderful. Upon reaching the check-out line on my last shopping trip, I realized my cart contained nothing but grapefruit juice, grapefruit-flavored seltzer, organic grapefruit dishwashing soap, grapefruit air freshener, and actual grapefruit. One of the most romantic gestures I have ever experienced was while I was writing my thesis: my boyfriend would take extra grapefruit from breakfast and leave it in my makeshift carrel for me to find. In short, I love grapefruit.

So it is with deep, deep sadness that I feel compelled to warn you about this luscious fruit. Despite its myriad virtues, grapefruit has a few very serious flaws. You've probably heard it interferes with some prescription medications, but did you know it can lessen the effectiveness of some kinds of birth control? Grapefruit affects the body's absorption of estrogen, the key component in many kinds of oral contraception. Since I think we can all agree that avoiding unwanted pregnancies is a goal to be vigorously pursued, this is the kind of information everybody should know. If you use oral contraception or know anyone who does, talk to your doctor (or tell them to talk to their doctor) about how to ensure your (their) birth control is operating at maximum effectiveness.

And though, as a grapefruit junkie it pains me to say this, if you take any kind of estrogen medication, it might be best to get your grapefruit fix with the dishwashing soap.

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