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Drinking Alcohol and Beer During Cancer Treatment and Recovery

Alcohol and cancer may not seem like a winning combination. However, there are several reasons to enjoy a beer or glass of wine, even while you’re in treatment. However, the most important consideration is your health. Therefore, if your mesothelioma doctors tell you not to consume alcohol, heed that advice and abstain.

If your doctors say it is OK have an occasional drink, you may enjoy some of alcohol’s known health benefits. These benefits include improved cardiovascular health and stress relief.

If you decide to consume alcohol, be sure to stay hydrated. Both alcohol and cancer treatments can dehydrate you.

Always Follow Your Medical Team’s Recommendation

When deciding whether to enjoy a beer or two during cancer treatment, it is important to consult your medical team. They will consider many factors, such as the type of treatment, exact drugs being used, and your overall health.

Alcohol and Chemotherapy

Many mesothelioma and cancer patients undergo chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is one of the most effective types of cancer therapy, especially when used in combination with other treatments. However, it can have terrible side effects. Chemotherapy drugs target and kill all fast growing cell in the body. This includes cancer cells as well as healthy cells. Some chemotherapy side effects make drinking difficult or impossible.

One common side effect of chemotherapy is mouth sores. Sores in the mouth not only make eating and drinking difficult, they may also change the taste of food and beverages. Alcohol can irritate such sores, causing even more pain. On the other hand, a small drink may increase appetite, counteracting weight loss or malnutrition, other problems that can occur during chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy also causes nausea and vomiting. Because excessive drinking can also cause these symptoms, cancer and drinking may not go well together.  Some people are so sickened by treatment that drinking is impossible. Also, chemotherapy and alcohol both also cause dehydration.

Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Survival Rate

If you are able to beat cancer and achieve remission, it is important to consider lifestyle factors that could lead to a recurrence. Drinking Alcohol could increase your risk, although evidence is inconclusive. Scientific studies are unclear about how drinking during treatment will impact overall health and cancer in general. Some studies link drinking to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. Others, however, seem to show that drinking does not affect survival rates.

One specific study followed 23,000 women who had previously participated in a breast cancer risk study. In this study, drinking did not affect survival rates of those who developed cancer. It also did not seem to reduce a woman’s chances of survival and remission. In addition, drinking after diagnosis did not affect survival rates. However, moderate drinking in this group of women did protect them against cardiovascular disease.

Health Benefits of Moderate Beer or Wine Consumption

Excessive drinking causes several problems, including a higher risk for some cancers. However, moderate drinking actually confers certain health benefits. Therefore, it is fine to enjoy an occasional drink your doctor approves.  Moderate drinking is one drink a day for women, and two for men.

Any kind of alcoholic drink reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease. However, wine and beer also have their own specific benefits. Beer, for example, has important nutrients like protein, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Beer also contains silicon, which is important for bone health. This is why beer drinkers suffer less from osteoporosis. Red wine, on the other hand, contains lots of healthy antioxidants.

Moderate drinking also decreases stress and has social benefits, including stronger bonds with supportive friends and family. Being social is beneficial to both physical and mental health. Friendship and social connections are particularly important for cancer patients.

Staying Hydrated

Alcohol naturally dehydrates the body, and good hydration is vital for cancer patients. Chemotherapy can also dehydrate patients. Also, vomiting and diarrhea caused by chemotherapy cause the body to lose water and become dehydrated. Therefore, if you drink, know the risks and drink plenty of water.

To stay hydrated, drink plenty of water. If drinking hurts due to sores, try sucking on ice chips or Popsicles. Eat foods with lots of water, like fruits or soups. Also, discuss mouth sores or vomiting with your doctor. He or she can help you find relief from these symptoms.

Drinking alcohol while undergoing cancer treatment is a personal choice, although one that should be done with the advice of your medical team. Balance risks against the benefits of enjoying a glass of your favorite beer or wine. Always remember that alcohol and cancer treatment both cause dehydration, so keep up your fluid intake.

Page Edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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