Can You Drink Alcohol While on Chemotherapy?

Can I drink alcohol while on chemotherapy? Well – it depends. First, it depends on how much you plan to drink and how often. It also depends on what type of cancer you have and what treatments you receive.

Excessive drinking is never a good idea, let alone while receiving cancer treatments. Drinking occasionally and in moderation might be tolerable. You’ll have to clear it with your healthcare team, though. You might be able to have a glass of wine on special occasions or continue to enjoy a beer while watching a Sunday game.

Your doctor will probably tell you that you can have up to one drink a day if you are a woman and two for men. 

What might be some of the risks of drinking alcohol while on chemo? 

There might be an interaction with some chemotherapy drugs and other medications. When alcohol is combined with sleeping pills, painkillers, or anti-anxiety drugs, it can cause severe adverse reactions.

Since both chemotherapy drugs and alcohol are metabolized in the liver, drinking alcohol may interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize toxins. 
Drinking alcohol might worsen some chemotherapy’s side effects, such as dehydration, nausea, or vomiting. 

Excess alcohol drinking can exacerbate chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. Also, alcohol use can cause sleeping disorders, which is already a problem for many cancer patients. It is also a depressant, and depression is common among people with cancer.

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