12 Foods You Must Avoid When Taking Hydroxyurea

Foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea

Do you take hydroxyurea for medical reasons, such as sickle cell anemia or some type of cancer? And you are concerned about what foods to avoid when taking hydroxyurea?

Due to potential impacts on how your body processes certain nutrients, there are several food items that could cause negative and potentially dangerous interactions with this medication. People can improve their health and maximize the effectiveness of their treatment by keeping these factors in mind.

Understanding what to avoid when taking hydroxyurea is important for your health and safety. Here, we’ll cover 12 of the most common foodstuffs that can cause serious interactions.

Read on to find out under what conditions you should take this medication and foods to avoid when taking hydroxyurea and why it’s important to arm yourself with this information.

What is Hydroxyurea?

Hydroxyurea is a chemotherapeutic drug used to treat specific types of cancer, such as leukemia(a malignancy specifically targeting the blood-forming cells) and certain types of lymphoma.

It works by targeting the cancer cells and stopping them from multiplying. In addition to treating cancer, hydroxyurea is also used to fight neck and head cancer and reduce the painful symptoms linked with sickle cell anemia.

Side Effects Of Hydroxyurea

Like other medications, hydroxyurea comes with its own set of side effects that patients need to be aware of.

Some common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sores in the mouth

There may also be more serious side effects, like:

  • Decreased blood counts: Increased risk of infection, bleeding, or anemia
  • Skin problems: Rashes and darkening of the skin
  • Lung problems: Difficulty breathing, coughing, or chest pain
  • Liver problems: Abdominal pain, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes

Patients must monitor their health closely and report any unusual symptoms to their healthcare provider immediately.

How should I use Hydroxyurea?

Hydroxyurea is typically available in capsule form and should be taken orally with a glass of water. Follow the instructions on the prescription label. And take your medicine regularly.

Be sure to take the medication as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. It’s important to remember that hydroxyurea works best when taken at the same time each day so try to make this part of your daily routine.

People who are not prescribed this medication should avoid any contact with it. It is recommended to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the bottle or medicine. Caregivers should consider using disposable gloves if they need to handle the bottle or administer the medication.

Note: This medicine is intended for your personal use only. Kindly refrain from sharing it with others.

Under what Conditions you should not take Hydroxyurea

Hydroxyurea is a powerful drug, and therefore, there are certain conditions where it should not be taken. Your care team must know if you have any of these conditions:

  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • gout or high levels of uric acid in the blood
  • liver or kidney disease
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Recent or ongoing radiation therapy.
  • low blood counts, such as reduced levels of white cells, platelets, or red cells.
  • wounds in legs or ulcers

People with a history of blood clots or stroke should discuss the use of hydroxyurea with their doctor before taking the medication. Children and adolescents should not take hydroxyurea.

Read Also: Bananas and Amlodipine: Can I Eat Both Together?

Relationship Between Foods and Hydroxyurea

When taking hydroxyurea, it is important to be aware of which foods may interact with the medication. For example, some fruits and vegetables can influence how well hydroxyurea works, while other types of food can potentially enhance its intended effects.

So, it’s important to make sure you follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on which foods to avoid while taking hydroxyurea. It’s a key aspect to keep in mind for your well-being.

Next, let’s discuss the 12 foods that you should definitely avoid while taking Hydroxyurea.

Note: If you’re on Hydroxyurea and thinking about stopping it without consulting your doctor, it could lead to some serious issues. You might want to check out what happens if you stop taking Hydroxyurea.

12 Foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea

12 Foods to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea

Here, we have discussed a list of 12 foods that it’s best to avoid when taking Hydroxyurea.

1. Alcohol

It is strongly recommended to avoid alcohol consumption while taking hydroxyurea. Alcohol can further suppress the production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your bone marrow.

Moreover, both alcohol and hydroxyurea have hepatotoxic effects which can potentially damage your liver. The liver damage risk is very high when you combine both.

When you combine these two substances, it could weaken your immune system, which makes harder for your body to fight off infection or illnesses. So it’s essential to take care of when using them together!

2. Grapefruit

Have you ever tried grapefruit or its juice? It’s not only delicious but also comes with a bunch of benefits. However, it’s important to be aware of its potential negative effects when combined with certain medications. These may include low blood pressure, abdominal pain, and a decrease in the count of white blood cells, which are super important for our immune system.

Did you know that grapefruit contains furanocoumarins? These compounds can actually mess with the enzymes that metabolize certain medications. So, if you love grapefruit in your diet, just keep in mind its possible side effects on your medications!

3. High-sugar foods

When you’re taking hydroxyurea, it’s important to keep in mind that having too much sugar can potentially up the risk of complications like infections and slow wound healing.

So, it’s a good idea to cut back on sugary treats like candy, soda, pastries, cookies, and ice cream. Just being mindful of your sugar intake can help you stay healthy while you’re undergoing hydroxyurea treatment.

4. Excessive Salt intake

Consuming too much salt and sodium in the diet can cause various health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. And it can really mess with the effectiveness of hydroxyurea and increase the chances of complications.

Most Americans consume around 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day. That’s about 3400 mg of sodium, which is actually way more than our bodies really need.

However, before adding salt or sodium content to your diet while taking hydroxyurea, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.

5. Excessive Caffeine

Avoid caffeine when taking Hydroxyurea

According to Food Insight, Over (93%) of the Americans report consuming caffeine, and three in four (75%) people have consumed caffeine at least once a day.

But it’s important to remember that caffeine is a well-known stimulant that slowly affects your cardiovascular and central nervous system. And here’s the thing, some people may experience certain side effects when they combine it with hydroxyurea

These side effects may include jitteriness, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and difficulties with sleep. It is important to be mindful of these potential interactions and consult with a healthcare professional for further guidance.

6. Raw or Cooked Seafood

Both raw and cooked seafood can contain bacteria that could interact negatively with hydroxyurea. Furthermore, these bacteria may even lead to serious medical issues if not addressed promptly.

Raw seafood can contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause unpleasant infections such as salmonella, norovirus, or hepatitis A, which may lead to nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Plus, hydroxyurea weakens your immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight off these infections.

Examples of seafood to avoid include oysters, tuna, salmon, clams, crabmeat, mussels, shrimp, and other shellfish. It is important to note that some of these foods can also be cooked before consumption.

And even if you cook them, there’s still a risk of bacterial contamination if they come into contact with other raw ingredients. So, to play it safe, it’s best to skip these foods while you’re taking hydroxyurea.

7. Processed foods

We all now love to eat processed foods because they are tasty and convenient. But you need to know that eating processed foods can interfere with hydroxyurea and increase the chances of having unpleasant side effects.

It can increase your cancer risk, lead to weight gain, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and more. Processed foods include pre-packaged snacks, canned soups, and frozen dinners that are super convenient.

It’s important to be careful about what you eat when you’re taking hydroxyurea, as these foods can mess with its effectiveness and your overall well-being.

8. Calcium supplements

It’s really important to avoid taking calcium supplements if you’re also using hydroxyurea because it can decrease the absorption of hydroxyurea and make it less effective.

According to WebMed, Calcium can decrease the absorption of other drugs such as bisphosphonates, tetracycline antibiotics (such as doxycycline and minocycline), estramustine, and quinolone antibiotics.

This precautionary measure is crucial for getting the best results and avoiding any possible complications from the interaction between these substances.

9. Raw Milk Products

Raw dairy products like unpasteurized milk, yogurt, and cheese can actually interact with a medication like hydroxyurea. It’s a common prescription for certain conditions, but when combined with these foods, it can increase the risk of infection.

Because unpasteurized dairy products contain various harmful bacteria like Listeria and E. coli, which can cause foodborne infections if consumed in raw form. If you’re undergoing hydroxyurea treatment, it’s strongly recommended to avoid consuming these types of foods.

10. Red meat

Eating red meat like beef, lamb, pork, and venison can interfere with the absorption of hydroxyurea in the body. This interference could lead to more chances of dealing with unpleasant side effects. So, it’s a good idea to be careful and think about other protein sources to avoid any potential risks that come with eating red meat.

11. Foods high in fat

If you’re taking hydroxyurea, it’s important to watch out for high-fat foods that could interfere with its absorption and increase the chances of side effects.

Some examples of high-fat foods to limit are fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, fatty meats such as bacon and sausage, and full-fat dairy products like whole milk and cheese and butter.

By monitoring these dietary considerations, you can better manage your hydroxyurea treatment and reduce the chances of unwanted reactions.

12. Licorice

Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which can cause some side effects when taken in large amounts(especially black licorice). It can potentially cause a condition called pseudo-hyperaldosteronism.

When combined with hydroxyurea, it can make things even worse and mess up your electrolyte balance.

However, it’s best to avoid licorice when taking hydroxyurea as it can speed up the breakdown of drug molecules, which can make it less effective and increase the chances of experiencing unwanted side effects.

What happens if you stop taking Hydroxyurea?

Stopping hydroxyurea treatment abruptly can have significant implications for your health, especially if you’re using it to manage a chronic condition like sickle cell anemia or certain types of cancer.

When hydroxyurea therapy is discontinued without the guidance of a professional, there’s a risk of experiencing a rebound effect where symptoms of the underlying condition may worsen.

Additionally, sudden cessation can cause a rapid increase in white blood cells in some patients, potentially resulting in complications like an increased risk of infection or thrombotic events, where blood clots form inside blood vessels.

So, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any changes in your treatment plan. They can help you safely reduce or stop hydroxyurea therapy to lower risks and transition smoothly to other treatments if needed.

Can I get the Covid vaccine while on Hydroxyurea?

Yes, getting the COVID-19 vaccine while on hydroxyurea is usually safe. Experts says there are no major issues with taking the COVID-19 vaccine with hydroxyurea treatment.

Patients with underlying health conditions are in fact encouraged to get vaccinated due to their potentially higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. However, as with any medical treatment, it is essential to talk to your healthcare provider about your specific circumstances.


Hydroxyurea is an effective medication used to treat various conditions, including sickle cell disease and cancer. However, it can have some serious side effects if not taken properly.

It’s important to know which foods to avoid when taking hydroxyurea to make sure you don’t have any bad reactions.

You must avoid alcohol, grapefruit, high-sugar foods, excessive salt intake, high-fat foods, artificial sweeteners, licorice, and cruciferous vegetables. Knowing which foods to avoid can help you have a safe and effective hydroxyurea treatment.


What is the most common side effect of hydroxyurea?

According to WebMD, the most common side effect of hydroxyurea is nausea and vomiting. Some other side effects can include mouth sores, diarrhea, hair loss, fatigue, stomach pain, and decreased appetite. If you experience any side effects while taking hydroxyurea it’s important to speak to your healthcare provider.

How long can you take hydroxyurea?

Some people say you should take it for at least a year. The length of time you take hydroxyurea depends on your condition and the dosage prescribed by your healthcare provider. Generally, you take hydroxyurea for as long as it works effectively and safely. So, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how to manage your treatment plan.

Is it OK to take hydroxyurea while pregnant?

No, It is not recommended to take hydroxyurea while pregnant. If you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before taking hydroxyurea.

Are there any other foods to avoid when taking hydroxyurea?

Other foods to avoid when taking hydroxyurea include high-fat foods, artificial sweeteners, raw sprouts, licorice, and cruciferous vegetables. It’s important to know which foods could potentially interact with the medication to avoid any possible negative reactions.

I forgot to take my dose of hydroxyurea. What should I do?

If you forget to take your dose of hydroxyurea, don’t worry! Just take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s already time for your next scheduled dose, then you can skip the missed one and continue with your regular schedule.

Should hydroxyurea be taken with food?

Yes, the medication should be taken with food. Hydroxyurea is best absorbed when taken with a full meal or snack. But, it is important to consult with your doctor about the best time and way to take hydroxyurea for optimal effectiveness.

Can I consume grapefruit while taking hydroxyurea?

Did you know that grapefruit can interact with certain medications, like hydroxyurea? It’s a good idea to have a chat with your doctor about any potential interactions between grapefruit and your medication. They may suggest that you limit or avoid grapefruit and other citrus fruits while taking hydroxyurea. Better safe than sorry, right?

What are the side effects of hydroxyurea for essential thrombocythemia?

Hydroxyurea therapy for essential thrombocythemia can lead to several side effects, similar to its use in other conditions. The most common ones include fatigue, nausea, and skin changes, like rash or darkening of the skin and nails. Some patients may experience lowered blood counts, which can increase the risk of infections, bleeding, or anemia. Mouth sores and gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or constipation can also occur. It’s important to get blood tests and check in with your doctor regularly to see how you’re doing with the treatment. They can change the dose if needed to help reduce any side effects.


The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

Sharing is Caring

Leave a Comment

Related Articles