22 October 1998

Keep Off The Big Mac If You're Going For Surgery

A report by researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center at the American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting in Orlando, suggests the foods you eat, even several days prior to surgery, may alter how your body will react to anesthesia,

Physicians have long been puzzled why patients respond in surprisingly different and often unpredictable ways to many anesthetics or muscle relaxants. This finding is one of the first to demonstrate a connection between food and the metabolism of anesthetics. (Earlier studies found that chemicals found in grapefruit juice could extend the bioavailability of several drugs, including several sedatives.)

"Our results bring us one step closer to understanding why patients vary so widely in their sensitivity to certain anesthetic drugs," said Jonathan Moss, M.D., Ph.D., professor of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Chicago and director of the study. "We now suspect that much of the variability may be due to diet."

Anesthesiologists make initial dosing decisions based primarily on age, weight and height, liver and kidney function, but "those are only part of the picture," Moss said. "We need to fill in the rest, including genetic, and now, dietary factors. Only then can we predetermine the best dose of drugs to prevent pain and anxiety during an operation but leave the patient awake and alert soon afterwards."

This is becoming increasingly important as more operations shift from inpatient procedures allowing several days for recovery to the outpatient arena with, at most, a few hours to recuperate.

This pre-clinical study suggests that ingesting even small amounts of natural substances found in potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants can markedly delay the metabolism of common anesthetic drugs.

Picture � : McDonalds