Freaky Fruit Findings at Your Fingertip

Handling fruit before using blood glucose monitor can result in inaccurate reading

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Who would've thought that fruit could harm you in some way? Apparently it can. According to new research, fruit residue on the hands of diabetics can cause finger-prick blood tests to show inaccurate blood sugar readings.

Takahisa Hirose, M.D., from Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine in Tokyo, and colleagues conducted a small study to see if residue left over after eating or peeling a fruit caused inaccurate blood glucose readings. The researchers conducted their study on non-diabetic individuals with normal blood glucose levels.

The study participants were told to peel an orange, grape, or kiwi. They were then instructed to do one of three things; 1. wash their hands with tap water, 2. clean their fingertip with an alcohol swab, or to 3. do nothing. Finally, their blood sugar levels were taken using finger-prick glucose monitors.

Dr. Hirose and colleagues found that the glucose monitors showed unusually and extremely high blood sugar readings after participants peeled fruit and did not wash their hands. And even after the fingertip was cleaned up to five times with an alcohol swab, the monitors displayed inaccurately high blood sugar levels.

On the other hand (so to speak), when participants only washed their hands with tap water after peeling fruit, their blood sugar levels were similar to those who did not handle fruit at all.

The authors conclude that the inaccurate blood sugar readings after handling fruit suggest that patients with diabetes should wash their hands before using a finger-prick test to monitor their blood sugar levels.

For the nearly 20 million Americans with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels is of upmost importance. Checking blood sugar helps diabetics manage their disease by helping them learn how food, activity, stress, medicine, and insulin affect their health. This knowledge can help patients avoid complications of diabetes such as kidney failure or blindness.

Although inaccurate blood glucose readings are usually due to human error, this new study shows that various factors can contribute to faulty readings.

The study is published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association.

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Review Date: 
February 14, 2011
Last Updated:
February 15, 2011