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Deadly Cocktails

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Dawson And Denise Show

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Drug interactions are a growing problem, sometimes with disastrous results.

If you want to understand how prescription drugs can interact in the body, sometimes in a deadly way, think of a tractor-trailer jack-knifing on a four-lane highway. The resulting traffic jam plugs up the roadway. Nothing gets through. The backed up traffic builds, and sometimes, there are more pile-ups as cars slam into the stopped vehicles.

When there's a traffic jam like this in the body, it's because too many drugs are using the same pathway to clear out of the body. The chances for bad drug interaction increase with each prescription you take.

  • If you take two prescriptions, there's a six per cent chance of some adverse interaction.
  • If you take five medications, there's a 50 per cent chance for some kind of interaction.
  • If you take eight medications, it's 100 per cent sure you'll have a negative interaction.

Who's at risk?
But how likely is it that the average person would take five to eight medications? The likelihood is increasing as the population ages and baby boomers head into their 50s. That's the time of life when illness and medication use traditionally increase.

The traffic jam analogy helps people understand drug interaction, but the processing of drugs within the body is quite complex. It's done by enzymes, found in the intestinal wall, the gut and liver. These particular enzymes are called cytochromes. And they process and clear the chemicals out of the body by becoming pathways. Certain cytochromes can be pathways for a variety of chemicals. And the sources for these chemicals can be prescription drugs, over the counter drugs, herbs, even food.

 

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