Chemotherapy and Alcohol Abuse

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This article will tell you some of the different ways that alcohol can hinder your treatment and your overall health.

One of the most stressful and life-changing things a person can ever face is hearing the news that they have cancer. A positive cancer diagnosis can be devastating news for someone. The changes to one’s lifestyle are irreparable and sometimes can lead to abusive habits such as increased alcohol consumption. This increased consumption can have adverse effects on the body as a person begins their chemotherapy. Alcohol’s effect on the body is multiplied when a person is undergoing chemotherapy (chemo). This article will tell you some of the different ways that alcohol can hinder your treatment and your overall health.

Immune System Suppression

While a patient is undergoing chemo, the drugs being used to suppress the cancer cells trying to grow in the patient’s body. While this is a good thing, the drugs are usually killing off good cells as well. Some of the good cells that are killed with the chemo treatments are white blood cells, which are responsible for keeping bacteria and other germs from making a patient ill. When a patient consumes alcohol, the effect of this white blood cell reduction is multiplied. This can leave your white blood cell count extremely low, leading to increased risk for diseases like influenza or pneumonia. Abstaining from alcohol while a patient is undergoing chemo is imperative for their overall health. If necessary, having a company like Low Cost Interlock install a voluntary ignition breathalyzer can at least help to tamp down consumption. Ultimately, however, it’s up to the patient to decide whether drinking is more important than a healthy immune system.

Stomach Irritation

One of the most common side effects of chemo is stomach irritation. This irritation can lead to nausea and vomiting, causing the patient moderate to severe discomfort. Consuming alcohol has been linked to increasing this nausea. When a chemo patient consumes alcohol, the already sensitive stomach lining has to work overtime to repair itself from the extra damage alcohol causes. Abstaining from alcohol while on chemo can improve your nausea symptoms and lead to an increased comfort level.

Unneeded Stress On The Liver

It is well known that alcohol is metabolized by the liver, where it is broken down and absorbed into the body. A lesser-known fact about chemo, however, is that most of the chemicals used to kill cancer cells are also metabolized by the liver. When alcohol is consumed in conjunction with chemo, the patient’s liver has to work much harder to metabolize toxins. This can lead to a feeling of tiredness at best, and at worse, irreparable liver damage. While it is true that you can always get a liver replacement, attempting such a procedure while a patient is undergoing chemo is very dangerous. It is best to avoid alcohol when undergoing chemo to avoid any unnecessary complications from an overworked liver.

Increased Risk of Dehydration

Another risk of consuming alcohol while undergoing chemo is the danger of dehydration. It is not uncommon for patients on chemo to suffer from instances of mild dehydration. While this is to be expected for most patients, patients that consume alcohol while on chemo will be at risk for mild to severe dehydration. Alcohol combined with the chemo treatment will dehydrate the body faster than normal, as alcohol is a diuretic causing you to utilize more water. For this reason, alcohol should be avoided in large quantities while a patient is undergoing chemotherapy. Any medicinal effects gained by the alcohol consumption will be mitigated by the possible adverse effects alcohol causes to the patient.

While alcohol is not always bad for medical patients, you should consult your doctor before drinking. Cancer is a disease that is diagnosed and treated by specialists, and only a specialist can tell you what specific effects alcohol will cause while you are undergoing treatment. Because of the reasons listed above, it is best practice to totally abstain from alcohol while on chemo.

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