Star fruit can be toxic for kidney patients: The Star – April 22, 2008

The Star Online
Tuesday April 22, 2008 MYT 7:16:12 PM
Star fruit can be toxic for kidney patients

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

University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) consultant nephrologist Prof Dr Tan Si-Yen said this was what happened to Tang Gon Seang, who has been suffering a kidney ailment.

The 66-year-old Malaysian was in Shenzhen visiting his son when he passed out on March 29 after eating star fruits and was rushed to the Shenzhen General Hospital where he fell into a coma.

“Star fruits contain a neurotoxin, which is not present in other fruits, affecting 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, Tang has been undergoing dialysis.

His brother-in-law Teoh Thian Lye, 55, confirmed that 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 Tang back to Malaysia as the family could not afford the hospital bill of RM1, 000-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 and immediate aggressive treatment of daily haemodialysis is necessary,” he added.

Dr Tan said UMMC was prepared to admit Tang, when he was transferred back to Malaysia.

Related link:
Starfruit can kill

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Star fruit can be toxic for kidney patients: The Star – April 22, 2008”

  1. Hey, good thing to know.I always thought star fruit is good for health.Never imagined it can kill if you have kidney problems.Don’t know if it can damage healthy kidneys too- think i’ll give it a miss to be on the safe side.

    I knew of someone who had diabetes and hypertension and drank star fruit juice regularly because it was believed to lower the blood pressure. Self-medication is indeed dangerous. You will not miss much not eating star fruits.There are many more delicious fruits out there for you to savour. I have not had star fruits for at least 30 years.

  2. Star fruit is rich in vitamins and nutrients and indeed is good for health.
    According to journal: Nephrol Dial Transplant(2003)18:120-125
    Intoxification by star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) in 32 uraemic patients: treatment and outcome

    “There are no reports of star fruit neurotoxicity in people with normal renal function.”

    ” Hiccups and vomiting, which are common symptoms, could be used as an indication of star fruit intoxication in renal patients presenting with neurological and consciousness disturbances that have no apparent cause”

    Thus, there is no need to avoid star fruit for ppl with healthy kidney.
    Do remember, moderation is the key to good health.


    The problem with kidney disease is that the symptoms are not usually apparent until the problem becomes acute or is discovered through medical tests. I agree with you that moderation is the way to go. There is also a need to inform people who are at risk of renal impairment of this hazard.

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