While I’m on chemo, can I still have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner?

 

Q: While I’m on chemotherapy, can I still have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner? 

A: Drinking alcohol—whether wine, beer, or liquor—may interfere with some chemotherapy drugs and can cause dehydration. Find out from your doctor or others on your health care team if having one drink with dinner is okay with the chemotherapy medication you’re taking. We tell our patients not to have alcohol the day before, day of, and day after chemotherapy.

Alcohol also can worsen some chemotherapy side effects, such as mouth sores. If the mouth becomes sore, alcohol can cause burning and additional dryness of the mouth. Some patients report that taste changes from chemotherapy or radiation to the head and neck make alcohol less enjoyable.

If it doesn’t conflict with your treatment medication, having a drink with dinner might help you relax and improve your appetite. But limit yourself to one drink. Excessive drinking is dangerous. Be sure your doctor knows the amount of alcohol you were drinking before treatment began, so you can get help with cutting back now if needed.
--Kathy Newman, RN, BSN

If you’re experiencing an upset stomach or nausea from chemotherapy, try a soothing cup of homemade ginger tea between or during meals.

This content was last reviewed August 15, 2010 by Dr. Reshma L. Mahtani.
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