• alcohol &treatment

    Asked by channing2623 on Tuesday, January 8, 2019

    alcohol &treatment

    I was curious if it was acceptable to consume alcohol during rads.

    15 Answers from the Community

    15 answers
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      Not all doctors are onboard the enforcing-sobriety train. Mine (PCP, MO, surgeon) all said moderation is the key--2 or 3 drinks a week (but not all at once) are okay. In fact, my PCP used to prescribe a daily glass of a good red, until he got my diagnosis of ER+ breast cancer--then he said instead of 3 5-oz. glasses a week, have 5 3-oz. glasses (alternating days) instead. So I bought a Coravin, which lets me enjoy 1-2 oz. and still keep the bottle fresh. And if there's no food that calls for a matching wine, I don't drink. (I occasionally attend monthly wine tastings and winemaker dinners: at the dinners I stop drinking a particular wine when I've finished the course paired with it--my tablemates are more than willing to finish my liquid leftovers; and I make liberal use of the discard/spit-buckets at tastings).

      The evidence, though, is still statistical--which in turn is retrospective, anecdotal, and flawed in that there are no control groups because of reliance on self-reporting by patients. In the case of ER+ cancers, the theory is that alcohol impairs the liver's ability to clear estrogen from the bloodstream; but by that logic, it also impairs the liver's ability to produce aromatase--the enzyme that is the catalyst for conversion of androgens into estrogens--which arguably enhances the action of the aromatase inhibitors we take. (But don't drink "Palomas" or "Sea Breezes" if you're on letrozole, because the grapefruit juice in them occupies the same metabolic pathway as that AI and thus makes the drug less effective).

      I imagine that if you're premenopausal and taking Tamoxifen instead, the prohibition might make more sense, as aromatase does not act on estrogen produced by the ovaries--so it's more vital to get whatever estrogen isn't already clogging up your tumor cells' hormone receptors out of your system. As to benzodiazepenes (Xanax, Ativan, Valium), avoid alcohol while they're in your system--regardless of cancer.

      And there's no evidence nor credible scientific theory that alcohol is a factor in ER- gynecological or breast cancers. However, it does make sense that during a course of radiotherapy (the original question) it's prudent to avoid substances that dehydrate you--or to double or triple your water intake.

      5 months ago
    • debsweb18's Avatar

      My doctor told me it was okay to have up 2 4 drinks a week. I rarely have more than 1 during a day. Twice during the last 7 years, during cruises I had 2 drinks a day for 9 days. I was told that was ok since we have to live life! Just don't go on vacation every month :)

      5 months ago
    • ChicagoSandy's Avatar

      I will make one correction of a typo in my previous post--should read "...more vital to get whatever estrogen that hasn't been blocked by Tamoxifen already clogging up your tumor cells' hormone receptors out of your system."

      5 months ago

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