Fruits can make good medicine at times, but it can also make good poison – sometimes unintentionally. A few people have been reportedly dying from eating star fruits – they mystery of which was solved soon. You see, star fruits contain a kind of neurotoxin that is harmful to the body. For most people, this toxin is filtered away by the kidneys. However, for people who are dysfunctional kidneys, or kidney problems, the toxin gets to travel around the body and be "absorbed", resulting in damage.

It was also reported that star fruits may be harmful to people who are suffering from heart problems and these people are advised against consuming such fruits. So, if you are suffering from any ailments that may be deadly, do contact your doctor for advice.

How much poison are you eating today?

KUALA LUMPUR- ALL it takes is one fruit or 100ml of its juice and the ordinarily harmless star fruit becomes poison in a matter of hours for kidney patients.

University Malaya Medical Centre consultant nephrologist Prof Dr Tan Si Yen said this was what had happened to Tang Gon Seang in China.

The 66-year-old, who has been suffering from a kidney ailment, was in Shenzhen visiting his son when fell into a coma on March 29 after eating star fruits.

‘Star fruits contain a neurotoxin which is not present in other fruits. It affects the brain and nerves. In healthy persons, the kidneys filter it out. In kidney patients, it cannot be removed and worsens their condition,’ he said.

More than 10 other patients in the hospital suffered the same condition after consuming star fruits. Two of them died.

After discovering the star fruit connection, Mr Tang has been undergoing dialysis.

His brother-in-law Teoh Thian Lye, 55, confirmed that Mr Tang had been on medication for kidney problems for three years.

The family sought the help of MCA Public Complaints and Services Department head Datuk Michael Chong to transfer Mr Tang back to Malaysia as the family could not afford the hospital bill of RM1,000 (S$430)-RM2,000 a day in intensive care.

According to Dr Tan, there was little awareness of this relatively new discovery and no local cases yet.

‘The public must be alert to reactions to star fruit. Look out for initial symptoms including hiccups, numbness and weakness, and neurological symptoms including confusion, agitation and epileptic fits,’ he said.

‘The risk of death is high,’ he added. — THE STAR/ANN

Article obtained from on 27th April 2008 dated 23rd April 2008

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