While most chemotherapy drugs are not affected by alcohol use, many other medications prescribed along with chemotherapy should not be taken with alcohol. Medications such as pain killers, sleep aids, and anti-nausea medications may interact with alcohol, causing adverse reactions.
The dehydrating effects of alcohol may also be a concern if you are undergoing chemotherapy, as you already have a heightened risk of dehydration because of your treatment. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common side effects of chemotherapy, and are also direct causes of dehydration. Add alcohol into the mix, and the dehydration effect is worsened.
How alcohol affects the liver is also something to take into consideration. The liver processes all of the toxins in our body, including chemotherapy. Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to effectively metabolize such toxins. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid alcohol altogether, especially if you already suffer from liver damage or are undergoing treatment of cancers affecting the liver.
Benefits to Consuming Moderate Amounts of Alcohol During ChemotherapyKeep in mind that drinking alcohol during chemotherapy isn't something that is exactly encouraged, although it may be allowed for some patients. If your doctor allows you consume alcohol during chemotherapy, it will be recommended that it be done in moderation. Your doctor will tell you how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. Heavy drinking is never recommended.
Some oncologists recommend an occasional glass of wine to help stimulate the appetite in people who have lost their desire to eat. Small amounts of alcohol may also be recommended to help you relax. Of course, these recommendations are made only after he or she evaluates the medications you are taking and how alcohol may affect their efficacy.