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Alcohol

Landranger25's picture
Landranger25
Posts: 207
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi all, just wondering what discussions if any you have had with your Doctors regarding having any kind of alcoholic drinks. I am 4 months post treatment and other than some champagne on New Years have not had even a beer since way back in May of last year. I know to avoid any mouthwash containing alcohol but am not sure regarding completely abstaining from even social drinking. Any input would be apprecciated. Thanks in advance.

Mike

micktissue's picture
micktissue
Posts: 432
Joined: Dec 2009

I had to laugh at that. I've not had anything to drink since November but I read and hear that a glass of red wine a day will help keep cancer away - LOL!

I too am curious about this. I am not a huge social drinker, but a glass of red wine now and then would be nice. Also, I'm Irish and I go for a bit of the stout now and then, well, not any more :-\

Best,

Mick

stevenl's picture
stevenl
Posts: 587
Joined: Jan 2010

Hey Mike and Mick,

I was just told no alcohol. Now I do not know how I will act post treatment, but I smoked for 40 years and I quit 2 days after I found out I had the c. Really didn't think I could or would ever be able to do that. Strange how you find out how mentally tough you can be
when faced with this monster. I know that I will never have another cigarette, but just can't say that about my beer.

Bless ya both,
Steve

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

Hi everyone,

My oncologist asked me the first time I met with him if I smoked or drank. I told him yes on the smoking but no on the drinking. He said that both cigarettes and alcohol are known causes of cancer.

I didn't bother to ask him to explain further since I didn't drink alcohol. I feel that if I have to give up the cigarettes I could give up alcohol also - if I drank. Quitting is definitely the HARDEST thing I have ever had to do, but since I want to "keep on" living it's a small price to pay for more time with my family and friends.

Stay strong and keep on smiling,

Glenna

fishingirl's picture
fishingirl
Posts: 188
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Steven,

I too smoked for 4o yrs. and quit as soon as I found out I had cancer. I also drank alcohol. More than I should have. Now, I don't smoke or drink. At all! I must say...I do miss it. But I am too scared to even have 1 drink. And I'll never smoke again. It's a whole new lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle:)

I wish you well through your treatments,

Cindy

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

I like the new picture:

I think that most doctors will say no to alcohol for someone who had cancer before.
Here is a link from ACS on the subject of Cancer & Alcohol

http://www.cancer.org/downloads/PRO/alcohol.pdf

I like what Mick said about red wine, that I do drink, but I use the one with no Alcohol in it.

Take care my friend

davidowe53
Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010

i know that all doctors have varied opinions but mine told me that alcohol added fuel to my fire before treatment so i took it as for myself to not drink

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

Just like to welcome you here to CSN, I don’t know where you are in your treatment but this is a great place for sharing information, good to have you with us.

Landranger25's picture
Landranger25
Posts: 207
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank-you all. I guess I'll continue with my abstinance as well. Unless there is a special occasion at which time I'll have 1 token beverage like I did at New Years. Hondo, that is one of my favorite pics as well. That is up at Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. What fun!!

Mike

SASH's picture
SASH
Posts: 276
Joined: Apr 2006

I haven't had a drink since August 10, 1999 due to the cancer. I was never a big drinker and never smoked except for 2 cigars in college. The last actual alcohol I had was in Liquid Tylenol a couple of months after my surgery. My reason for not drinking alcohol is that part of my tongue fell out from the radiation and left exposed nerve endings. I'm just afraid that having part of my tongue missing and if I do have a drink at this point I would be on the ceiling in pain from the burning. I really don't miss it so it is easy for me to pass, even when everyone else is having a beer. I'll just stick to my water.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5608
Joined: Apr 2009

I think I will pay you a visit next summer; I love the water, growing up on the bay Islands of Honduras I was almost like a fish everyday. I love scuba diving but because of the damage ears the doctors and wife will not let me dive anymore. I guess I need to find a bubble head type helmet the kind they use for dogs, but then I might start barking.

Take care

carolinagirl67's picture
carolinagirl67
Posts: 153
Joined: Jul 2009

My husband drank red wine shortly after we finished the rad/chemo back in Sept and still occassionally has as glass. He said it is one thing that has a good taste and no one ever told us not to drink alcohol, so my question is why are they saying not to? Is it because it can cause cancer?

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

My oncologist said that smoking and alcohol were know to cause cancer. He did not specify which types of cancer and I didn't pursue the subject as I do not drink. I got the impression that he was talking about heavy drinking and not the occasional glass of wine. If your husband is concerned he should contact his doctor and ask if drinking will affect his recovery or possibility of reocurrence.

Take care,
Glenna

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

As one might realize by reading all of the responses, a doctor is likely to suggest moderation in all things (except for smoking or sucking in asbestos or some such). Of course, if drinking was part of the recipe for the head/neck cancer, it would be wise not to indulge again following treatment.

I find it interesting that, from a cultural and legal perspective, alcohol is getting a pass. Why is it that the big beer and whiskey makers are not being sued like the cigarette people were, when alcohol is clearly a causative agent for cancer?

Take care,

Joe

delnative's picture
delnative
Posts: 452
Joined: Aug 2009

My doc had no objections to my drinking. Matter of fact, when he was telling me what to expect as I began treatment, he mentioned a patient who had been a connoisseur of fine red wine. After treatment she lost her taste for wine -- and found that she enjoyed Budweiser!
I'm back to having wine or beer (no Bud) with my dinner, but I have learned that the bourbon I used to enjoy now makes my throat hurt. I have to save that for the occasional nip, and the 100-proof stuff is just too strong anymore ... not to mention that stuff that comes in a Mason jar and is of dubious pedigree.

--Jim in snowbound Delaware

Glenna M's picture
Glenna M
Posts: 1580
Joined: May 2009

That's a very interesting question Joe - "Why is it that the big beer and whiskey makers are not being sued like the cigarette people were, when alcohol is clearly a causative agent for cancer?"

Not only does drinking cause some types of cancers it kills many innocent people every year in car accidents. I know people have a choice of whether to drink or not and no one is forcing them to drink, but alcohol, for some people, is as addictive as drugs and cigarettes. Alcoholism has destroyed many families but as you said they are not being sued.

I personally know a few people who are alcoholics who fight the urge to drink and are attending AA to keep them clean, like smokers they know if they have "just one" they will have lost the battle.

Just my thoughts.

Take care,

Glenna

JGE
Posts: 50
Joined: Mar 2009

So PLEASE take my input with a grain of salt. But from what I have read on the issue of SCCHN, and I search WAY too much on the subject, Alcohol alone does not "cause" this cancer. The only relationship that I have read studies on show that heavy alcohol consumption COMBINED with smoking is the worst case scenario. It has been a few months since I found that one and don't have the time to track it down again to prove my case. But what it said was that Tobacco is the real bad guy (although probably behind HPV for many of today's new patients).

A close friend who is also close to 2 yrs out from treatment for Base of Tongue is a BIG Bud drinker. His ENT doctor said, "Bud Lite did not cause this". He took it to heart and still drinks beer every day. Don't know if I would go that far!

Couple things are certain, most of us will never know what caused us to get Squamous. So, you have to look at what you DO know. First, we all encounter many known carcinogens even if we try very hard not to. Second, some type of cellular error occurred that or body couldn't correct before it got out of hand. It is possible that alcohol or illness or other carcinogen helped reduce your body's resistance and allowed an Oncogene to let a defective cell mutate into a cancer. You could probably make a good argument then for refraining from alcohol to keep your body's immune system stronger and avoid ANY type of disease. But to say that alcohol alone caused it, I have searched high and low and haven't found research to support it. Nor will any of my very educated and experienced doctors commit to telling me specifically how I got cancer.

Lastly, we know that the doctors that treated us are very concerned about preserving quality of life for us after treatment. Without considering quality of life, cure rates would probably be even higher! But you have to balance what you do to a person while trying to cure them. This is where I think alcohol (and many other things) falls in the equation. Once treatment is over and you resume n 'normal' life you automatically start questioning everything you did prior to cancer. This has one of the biggest effects on quality of life as anything. It is with you all the time. Life's little pleasures are a large part of what makes our fight to be cancer free so worth it. People find enjoyment in many different things that we all might not agree on. For some people a glass of wine with dinner or a cold beer during a football game with their buddies might bring momentary happiness thereby adding to the "quality" of their life.

I personally don't drink alcohol often. Maybe a few drinks in a month or so at a special occasion or whatever. Usually when I am with friends that are having as much fun as their complicated lives will allow. If my cancer reoccurs or I am found with a second primary I doubt that those drinks are what caused it. But either way, I enjoyed them and I am happy as heck to be here!

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

JGE,

Your sentiments seem right, but your research is apparently remiss.

A cursory search found the following:

From WebMD, 02/2009 -- [Women who drink as little as one alcoholic beverage a day -- be it beer, wine, or hard liquor -- have an increased cancer risk, a study shows.

Researchers followed more than 1.2 million middle-aged women for an average of seven years. The women were participants in the ongoing Million Women Study in the U.K.

Those who drank alcohol consumed on average one drink a day. These women had an increased cancer risk with increasing alcohol intake, especially for cancers of the breast, liver, rectum, mouth, throat, and esophagus.

Based on their findings, the researchers estimated that alcohol could be to blame for 13% of these cancers in women.]

From ScienceDaily, 10/2009 -- [Alcohol consumption has long been linked to cancer and its spread, but the underlying mechanism has never been clear. Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have identified a cellular pathway that may explain the link.

In a study published in a recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the researchers found that alcohol stimulates what is called the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, in which run-of-the-mill cancer cells morph into a more aggressive form and begin to spread throughout the body.

"Our data are the first to show that alcohol turns on certain signals inside a cell that are involved in this critical transition," said Christopher Forsyth, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and biochemistry at Rush University Medical Center and lead author of the study.]

There are a whole lot more where these came from, all of which are fairly easy to get to if one is willing to do a proper search, a proper search being as easy as entering 'alcohol' and 'cancer' in a search engine input box at the same time, your diligent research that found no links between the two, JGE, notwithstanding.

Far be it from me to rain on anyone's parade, and it may be that the studies cited (and all of the others I found, too) are in error. That happens.

Lest I come across as self-righteous, be advised that while I have not had even a puff of smoke since my first surgery in October of 2005, I have sucked down a few beers since then, sometimes in prodigious quantities, I must admit.

Whatever my personal habits and wishes are, though, I cannot ignore what appears to be stark evidence of the relationship between alcohol and cancer.

Take care,

Joe

micktissue's picture
micktissue
Posts: 432
Joined: Dec 2009

In fairness, I think JGE was specifically talking about SCCHN, not cancer in general. And for SCCHN there are causal links between tobacco, alcohol, EBV, and HPV, and a host of other nasty agents. Can one of these by itself cause SCCHN? Maybe. Is it likely that a combination of these makes someone more likely to get SCCHN? Maybe; probably? The stats tend to back that up, at least when it comes to prevalence and prognosis.

What we can say, IMHO, is that drinking alcohol can cause some cancers (my dad's liver cancer for example) but that any *specific* agents (alcohol, tobacco, fats, sugars, etc.,) depends on several other factors to induce cell transformation (e.g., general health, genetics, nutrition).

Much of what we talk about needs to be taken as general statements rather than gospel. In general, *less* alcohol, sugars, fats, and environmental carcinogens can make you more resistant to disease. That's about as much as any of us know with relative certainty.

Best,

Mick

JGE
Posts: 50
Joined: Mar 2009

Problem is, it is all over the lot!

And yes I was talking specifically about Squamous. No doubt alcohol is a large factor in Liver cancer.

... a 2008 study says this

Résumé / Abstract
Background. While the attributed risk factors for the vast majority of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) are smoking and alcohol abuse, there appears to be a rising proportion of SCCHN patients who report no significant smoking or drinking history. This study reports the demographic and potential risk factors of a large series of never smoker-never drinker (NSND) patients. Methods. All subjects were participants in a prospective epidemiologic study of incident SCCHN. We obtained demographic data, clinical characteristics, and potential etiologic factors for 172 NSND patients and 1131 ever smoker-ever drinker (ESED) patients. Results. NSND patients were more likely to be female and to present at extremes of age, but overall were significantly younger than ESED patients. NSND patients had a higher proportion of oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers than ESED patients had. Eleven percent of NSND patients (17% of NSND men) reported regular use of noncigarette tobacco products or marijuana, 41% (45% of NSND women) reported regular environmental exposure to tobacco smoke, 24% (36% of NSND men) reported regular occupational exposures to carcinogens/ toxins, and 30% had a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease. More than half the NSND patients with an oropharyngeal primary were serologically positive for human papillomavirus type 16. Conclusion. NSND patients with SCCHN are commonly young women with oral tongue cancer, elderly women with gingival/buccal cancer, or young to middle-aged men with oropharyngeal cancer. While several exposures studied may be important to the etiology of a subset of these cancers in NSND patients, it is likely that no single known factor is responsible for a majority of SCCHN in NSNDs.

That is the problem with knowing what to give up and not... it is likely that no single known factor is responsible for a majority of SCCHN in NSNDs!

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