Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 1290: Drugs

Okay. I figured something out. I am going to summarize the general things I am learning in biochem here, for you all, in plain English in hopes that a) you learn something and b) I learn something while typing it. Sound good? Great. (Feel free and leave now, haha)

Today's post is on drugs. Things I have learned from my biochem lecture(s):
  1. A patient at a hospital is given, on average, 9 drugs during their stay. (NINE!)
  2. These drugs stimulate or repress (science word: upregulate or downregulate) specific proteins in your body (science: cytochrome P450). The stimulation/repression of these proteins affects how your body reacts to drugs.
  3. The fun food-and-drug pairings I mentioned in my previous post? Well, here's an image to give you some 411.
Image from the Wall Street Journal
So what does this image mean? Basically, these foods will either increase or decrease the amount of time a drug stays in your body. Today's post will focus on pomegranate, cranberry and grapefruit. As we can see in the image, these three fruits increase Lipitor's stay in the body. Well, wait. Isn't that good? To have Lipitor stay in the body longer in order to increase it's effects on cholesterol levels? No. No, it is not good.

The reason that you don't want Lipitor to stay an extra weekend in your bloodstream is because Lipitor (as previously discussed) is a statin. This particular statin blocks an enzyme in your body from creating more cholesterol. Cholesterol, despite all the hullabaloo, is actually good for you. Granted, not the seven cheeseburgers and four orders of fries, but the "good fats" like avocados (yum!) or omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, for example). We need cholesterol to keep all of our cell membranes nice and fluid and cushy and moving around. If Lipitor stays too long in the bloodstream, it begins to affect not only the amount of bad-cholesterol in the body, but also the good. What does this all mean for you, Dad? DON'T EAT LARGE AMOUNTS OF CRANBERRIES, POMEGRANATES OR GRAPEFRUIT (juice included)!

Okay Team. That's all for today's science lesson. Upcoming lessons include alcohol detoxification and oxidative stress.