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Is it bad to mix chemo and alcohol?

7 answers | Last updated: Nov 19, 2015
vera asked...

Is it bad to drink alcohol while undergoing chemotherapy?


Caring.com User - Andrew Putnam
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Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.
73% helpful
Andrew Putnam answered...

The two main dangers of drinking alcohol (assuming you're talking about small amounts of social drinking and not severe intoxication) are the sedative effects and the effects on the liver. See also:
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1) Many medications can cause sedation including, among others, pain medications, anti-anxiety meds, anti-nausea meds, anti-histamines, some psychiatric meds and sleeping pills of course. The danger is that the sedative effects of the alcohol will be added to those of the other drugs so you'd sleep much too long or even, in extreme cases, stop breathing altogether. So while not specifically dealing with the chemotherapy, this can be a problem with other medications that the patient may be taking.

2) The liver is necessary to clean the body of many medications, including chemotherapy. Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to do its job and the patient can suffer. For this reason, when in doubt, don't drink alcohol.

3) After considering #s 1 and 2, it is important to realize that alcohol is an important aspect of both relaxation and socializing in many people's lives. So ask the oncologist whether in the patient's situation it is safe to have the occasional alcoholic beverage.


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65% helpful
heidiliz answered...
Personally I would not. I am currently going through chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer and have chosen to not drink any alcoholic beverages. I used to enjoy a glass or two of red wine in the evening and and occasional beer on a hot summer day but alcohol is very dehydrating and zaps you're energy. Why not give you're body a break and take this time to get as healthy as possible. If you want the benefits of red wine, drink pure grape juice, it is a good blood purifyer. Also, remember that chemo drugs are very harsh on the liver...adding alcohol can be a double whammy! When alcohol enters the body it is converted to sugar...cancer LOVES sugar and feeds on any type of sugar, another reason to avoid it. One last thing, if you had a drinking problem prior to being diagnosed, now is the perfect opportunity to quit and get as healthy as possible so you can re-create a healthy immune system. I hope this helps. Take care, from someone who cares!

25% helpful
AlwaysDaddy'sGirl answered...

Sorry this isn't an answer for you but I was wondering if this could have been a reason for my Father's Brain tumor comming back so soon because Cancer loves Sugar and my father Drinks and did so while on Chemo (pill Form)- He is listed as incurable. He drinks everyday. Not excesively but like 3-4 a day. He has a very aggresive type of GBM grade 4 So I hope the Best for everyone that is fighting this monster in any form.God Bless


29% helpful
Common-sense answered...

This sentence really bothered me: "it is important to realize that alcohol is an important aspect of both relaxation and socializing in many people's lives." What a sad culture we live in where relaxation and socializing require alcohol. No one NEEDS alcohol to do anything. Alcohol has been proven to influence tumor-size's doubling time since as a sugar it is devoured by cancer cells. It also messes with your liver if you're on chemo, which is already hard on the liver. Of COURSE the consumption of alcohol should be stopped both preventatively for cancer or at least during treatment.


20% helpful
JocelynS answered...

I am being treated for breast cancer and am only 30. I just finished chemotherapy and am doing radiation. I love drinking alcohol! Especially over the holidays. I could have a few drinks but I paid for it for about a week later. Twice, once was New Years Eve, I had a few drinks and I had mouth sores for the next week. A couple weeks ago I went out and got drunk and then a cold. So I think it's not such a good idea to get drunk. When I was first diagnosed I made a joke to the nurse about not being able to party and she said that if you could handle it it was fine. Doing chemotherapy is shitty and sometimes if you want a drink, have one.


shareasmile15 answered...

I agree. Over drunking can make you feel worse. But one drink in 12 weeks of chemo isn't going to kill you. Try to enjoy your social times.


car2tenn answered...

Extremes of any substance are problematic. Listen to your body. Small amounts of alcohol are no worse than a piece of occasional pie in my estimation. Of course blatant inebriation is not good whether you are on chemo or not.