Fact Check

Star Fruit Warning

Is star fruit is dangerous to eat?

Star fruit is dangerous to eat.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2008]

This fruit can end your life!

This is not an April Fool Joke. But a stern reminder to all my readers. We were advised to have a few servings of fruits a day in order to rep the benefits of fruits right? But obviously this is one big no-no fruit to be excluded from your fruity feast!

In Shenzen, more than 10 people who consumes the star fruit had died. And now a 66-year-old, Malaysian who has been suffering from kidney ailment fell into coma after eating the start fruits. Yes, all it takes is one fruit or 100ml of its juice and the ordinarily harmless star fruit transforms poison in a matter of hours for kidney patients. So does this mean, people without kidney problems should be fine with star fruit! My take: Not at all! Prevention is better right?

Universiti Malaya Medical Centre consultant nephrologist said that 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. But for those with kidney problems, this potent toxin cannot be removed and will worsen the consumers' conditions.

The symptoms of start fruit poisoning include:
~Numbness and weakness
~Feeling confused
~Epileptic fist

The risk of death is high if you are having kidney ailments! But healthy individuals should beware of this fruit's potential toxin too. It could also cripple your vitality if you are not lucky. So don't take it for granted. It's better to avoid them. Please pass this news to others.

So be warned. If you have kidney impairment, DO NOT consume Starfruit or Starfruit juice.

Origins:   The item quoted above, typically titled "Star Fruit Can Kill," has been circulating on the Internet since at least May 2008. The original author is unknown to us, but the piece draws its information from April 2008 news reports surrounding the death of Tang Gon Sean, a 66-year-old Malaysian man

Star fruit

who on 29 March 2008 passed out after eating star fruits, was taken to Shenzhen General Hospital, and subsequently expired there after falling into a coma. Ten other patients at that same hospital experienced symptoms similar to his, and two died, said Tan Si-Yen, the doctor quoted in those news reports. All had eaten star fruit.

Relatively little known in North America, star fruit is popular in China, Taiwan, India, Philippines, Australia, Central America, Africa, and Brazil. While this foodstuff's proper name is carambola, it is more commonly called "star fruit" because of its shape, which causes slices taken from it to resemble stars. It has a sweet, mild taste somewhat akin to a cross between apple and lime, and is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It also has the potential to harm kidney patients.

Star fruit contains a neurotoxin that affects the brain and nerves but which people with healthy kidneys are able to filter out; it therefore poses no danger to those whose kidneys function normally. However, those with renal problems lack protection from that neurotoxin and thus risk "star fruit intoxication," a condition that manifests with insomnia, hiccups, vomiting, numbness of limbs, decreased muscle power, twitching of muscles, confusion, and convulsions, with the time between ingestion and onset of symptoms varying from thirty minutes to fourteen hours. Intractable hiccups are often the first symptom to present itself.

While the majority of those hospitalized for star fruit intoxication do recover, some deaths have been associated with this condition. Star fruit-exacerbated complications in kidney patients are rare, but they are potentially fatal, and thus this fruit is best avoided by those with kidney problems, including those on dialysis. Indeed, dialysis is the only treatment known to be effective in treating this illness, yet it must be both daily and intensive to have the desired effect, and continuous dialysis has been recommended for severe cases.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) advises in its Dietary Guidelines for Adults Starting on Hemodialysis: "Always AVOID star fruit (carambola)."

Information about the interaction of renal patients and star fruit did not first surface in April 2008; medical literature has been documenting reports of and studies about the star fruit's effect on kidney patients at least since 2000, with such findings subsequently reported by the general media.



    Lai, Yung-Hsiung,   "Fatal Outcome After Ingestion of Star Fruit."


    American Journal of Kidney Diseases..   February 2000   (Vol 35, 2:189-193).

    Neto, Miguel Moyses.   "Star Fruit Intoxication in Uraemic Patients."


    3rd Congress of Nephrology.   2003.

    Petersen, Pete.   "Quirky, Sweet Carambola Is a Star."


    The Oregonian.   12 December 2006   (Food Day; p. 7).

    Tse, K.C.   "Star Fruit Intoxication in Uraemic Patients."


    Internal Medical Journal.   July 2003   (33(7):314-6).

    [Melbourne] Herald Sun.   "Check Up: Fruit Fear."


    7 August 2003   (p. 26).

    The [Sydney] Daily Telegraph.   "Home Check."


    25 August 2003   (p. 67).

    Reuters.   "Eating Star Fruit May Be Fatal in Uremic Patients."


    11 February 2000.

    Reuters.   "Star Fruit Dangerous in Kidney Failure Patients."


    15 February 2000.

    South China Morning Post.   "In Brief: Kidney Failure Patients Urged to Avoid Star Fruit."


    18 March 2007   (p. 4).

    The Star.   "Star Fruit Can Be Toxic for Kidney Patients."


    22 April 2008.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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