Doctors are warning of the dangers of the grapefruit diet after a woman almost lost a leg three days into the eating regime.
The 42-year-old developed a blood clot in her left leg after the fruit interacted with the contraceptive Pill she was taking. A scan found a clot from the hip all the way down to her calf. Surgeons said she was in danger of losing the leg to gangrene, and injected a clot-busting medication directly into the blockage.
The grapefruit diet involves eating just 800 calories and having at least one grapefruit a day. It is claimed the enzymes in the fruit help the body burn fat.
In the American woman's case the fruit blocked the action of an enzyme that normally breaks down oestrogen in the Pill. Too much oestrogen in the blood raises the risk of blood clots. The woman had been on a long car journey, after which she felt pain from her lower back to her left ankle. By the following morning her leg had turned purple. She had only started the diet three days earlier. Previously she had rarely eaten grapefruit.
Writing in the Lancet medical journal, doctors said that the car journey was a factor, as was a mutated gene she carried that increases the risk of clots. But they said three days of grapefruit for breakfast 'may have tipped the balance'.
The woman made a full recovery after a taking the blood-thinning drug warfarin and stopping the Pill.