Foods to Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea: The Importance of Dietary Awareness


To thrive in this world, we need to build a good foundation, and eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of them. Today, we are battling many diseases, some of them mainly because of our poor lifestyle choices and eating habits. We need to maintain strict discipline in our diet while taking some medicines. This blog will be shedding light on foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea. 

There is no strict regulation for these drugs used in certain cancers, sickle cell disease, and polycythemia vera. According to various studies, certain food items can reduce the efficacy of this drug by interfering with its absorption in the body. We will explain why some food items interact with Hydroxyurea. Thus, we should avoid them. Stay tuned to take a deep dive into the pool of information surrounding the drug.

What is Hydroxyurea, and When Should You Use it?

What is Hydroxyurea, and When Should You Use it?
What is Hydroxyurea, and When Should You Use it?

Hydroxyurea is a wonder drug that has been classified as an antineoplastic agent. We need to understand the complexity of its work to realize what diseases it can treat. It is used in cancer treatment, sickle cell disease, and polycythemia vera. 

How does it work?

The medicine interferes with cells’ growth and reproduction, especially those that divide rapidly. By interfering, it can inhibit the growth of specific cancer cells. 

Treating Cancer

  • This medication is used to cure or slow down various types of cancers. 
  • Myeloid leukemia, head or neck cancer, and melanoma are some types of cancer it can treat
  • It inhibits the growth and reproduction of cancer cells, thus stopping it before becoming a significant concern.

Sickle Cell Disease

  • This is a blood disorder in which abnormal hemoglobin cells cause Red Blood Cells (RBCs) to become sickle-shaped.
  • This can cause severe pain known as a pain crisis, anemia, increased infection rate, and even stroke.

Polycythemia Vera

  • It is a rare chronic blood disorder in which our body overproduces Red Blood Cells (RBCs) in bone marrow.
  • Due to the overproduction of RBCs which float in our bloodstream, causing blood clots, chances of leukemia, and enlarged spleen.

Foods to Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea

Foods to Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea
Foods to Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea

While discussing foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea, it becomes prominent when discussing Grapefruit and alcohol. They both can interfere with the absorption of medicinal salts. The medicine deals with cancer cells and some blood disorders, making it critical to understand its dos and don’ts.

1. Avoid Grapefruit While Taking Hydroxyurea

  1. Yes, you heard it right. Do not consume grapefruit or its juice while taking Hydroxyurea. It has specific compounds that impact the way medicinal salt is absorbed in the body.
  2. The interference can reduce the efficacy of the medicine or increase the level of medication in the bloodstream, which can be dangerous.
  3. Avoid grapefruit, choose a balanced diet, and discuss it with a healthcare expert. With this, the interference of certain food items with medicinal salt can be avoided.

2. No to Alcohol

  • We should say no to Alcohol or use it in moderation as it can have an impact on the medicine by interfering with its absorption in the body.
  • Alcohol consumption can increase the side effects of the medicine, which may involve dizziness and drowsiness. 

Also Read: Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) vs. Medical Doctors (MDs)

Diet to Take in Moderation

Diet to Take in Moderation
Diet to Take in Moderation

While we are talking about foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea, we must understand there is no fixed type of restriction while taking it. Moderation is the key here, and consuming things like folate and an iron-rich diet can be admissible sometimes.

Do not Take Much of Folate Rich Food

  • It is a general instruction to consume less folate-rich food. Folate, or folic acid or vitamin B9, is found in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and beans.
  • Hydroxyurea may interfere with the absorption of folate in the body. Consuming a folate-rich diet in large amounts can reduce the effectiveness of the medicine.

Avoid Iron Rich Food

  • Avoiding an iron-rich diet when taking Hydroxyurea is advised, as it can create problems.
  • The medicine can increase iron absorption in the body, eventually resulting in iron toxins due to its increased number.
  • Red meat, fortified cereals, and beans come under an iron-rich diet. It can be dangerous to consume them with Hydroxyurea.

Webstory on “Foods to Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea”


We want to conclude this blog by emphasizing foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea. It is crucial for some individuals as the level of diseases it can treat is critical. However, there are no selective protocols that can make the “Hydroxyurea diet”, but to know better about the efficacy and absorption of medicine in our body, we must have this kind of knowledge. Grapefruit and alcohol can impact the efficiency of medications by interfering with absorption in the body. We should maintain a healthy, balanced diet and regularly consult a doctor to keep a regular check on the effect of Hydroxyurea in our body.


Q1.  Why take folic acid with hydroxyurea?

Folic acid is often recommended with hydroxyurea as it is a B vitamin that produces and maintains new cells. Hydroxyurea is a prescribed medicine for certain types of cancers and sickle cell disease. It works by interfering with and blocking the production of abnormal cells, including Red Blood Cells. Folic acid supplements create balance by maintaining blood cell production, including RBCs, which mitigate the potential decrease caused by hydroxyurea.

Q2. What is a natural alternative to hydroxyurea?

Hydroxyurea is a prescribed medicine that can be used for certain cancers and sickle cell disease. It is almost impossible to replicate the exact treatment mechanism with a natural alternative. However, we can make specific dietary changes, which include adding whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with adequate hydration in our diet, which can help us manage symptoms associated with sickle cell disease. Certain supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be added along with the treatment. This strategy will help us alleviate various sickle cell disease and cancer symptoms.

Q3. What is the most common side effect of hydroxyurea?

Hydroxyurea is a wonder drug prescribed for certain cancers and sickle cell disease. One of the most common side effects associated with it is “Bone marrow suppression.” Blood cells in bone marrow can be impacted as it will decrease the production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can cause anemia and increase the risk of infections, bruising, and bleeding. A few minor side effects might include nausea, hair loss, mucositis, and fatigue.

Q4. How successful is hydroxyurea?

It is considered a revolutionary drug to deal with certain types of cancers and sickle cell disease. The medicine alleviates symptoms like pain crises in sickle cell disease or reduces the risk of blood clots in polycythemia vera or essential thrombocythemia. It also reduces the production of abnormal blood cells which can help in treating sickle cell disease.

Q5. What drug can replace hydroxyurea?

 Hydroxyurea is vital in treating sickle cell and certain types of cancers. However, replacing it with other medicines and expecting the same success rate is impossible. It also depends on the individual and doctor, how the patient responds to the drug, and the reason for changing the medicines. We can try L-glutamine or voxelotor in sickle cell disease. Some targeted therapies in cancer as a potential alternative to hydroxyurea.

Q6. Can hydroxyurea be stopped?

It is not recommended to stop hydroxyurea abruptly. We may have to face extreme consequences if we abruptly stop taking it. Hydroxyurea is a prescribed medicine for certain cancers and sickle cell disease. We need to be in constant touch with our doctor to determine the duration of its use. We should follow up with the doctor as suggested, as the medicine is given to treat high-level diseases.

Q7. Is 500mg of hydroxyurea safe?

The medicine should be taken only after a consultation with a doctor as it is given to treat certain cancers and sickle cell disease. The potency of a drug should be determined by expert healthcare and only be prescribed after examination of the body, patient history, and conditions.

Q8. How can I reduce the side effects of hydroxyurea?

We should monitor the side effects of the medicine and communicate it to our doctor to mitigate it. Staying hydrated and drinking enough liquid can help us avoid feeling nauseous after taking the medication. Please stick to the amount of dosage that has been prescribed, and there is no need to improvise it without consultation. Lastly, we must attend checkups and monitor any change in symptoms to communicate it with our doctor.

Q9. What is the best time of day to take hydroxyurea?

It all depends on the patient’s condition and as per the recommendation made by the doctor. Usually, it is recommended once every day at the same time daily. In a few cases, hydroxyurea must be taken on an empty stomach, so a recommendation is needed. Doctor, after examining you and evaluating the conditions, can suggest so.

Mansi Balodi
Mansi Balodi
My life is always on a run but I try to find time for myself to let my wisdom and knowledge help and guide you. In my blogs, I will try to demystify the complexities of topics and will connect with you with ease of understanding. So let's explore the treasure of the world with words.

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