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Drinking Alcohol after Breast Cancer

y-not
y-not Member Posts: 3

Hi Everyone, I have been on this website a lot since my diagnosis (September 2022), and this is my first post, so please forgive me if this topic is on here somewhere - but I just couldn't find it. What are you thoughts about drinking alcohol after breast cancer? I am petrified of recurrence, even though I am at low risk. I am still having a few cocktails a week as we socialize a lot, but I always feel guilty when I do have a drink! I have watched some videos by Dr. Kristi Funk who sells supplements (Cosmo Companion) to supplement the negative effects of alcohol with methylfolate (whether it helps or not, I don't know). I know the best thing to do is to avoid alcohol completely as it also causes other health issues. I was just curious to what you all have to say about this as I sometimes find it hard to discuss anything related to breast cancer with family or friends because they haven't been through it (thankfully!). If there's a topic on this already, I'd really appreciate if someone can send me the link - thanks!


Comments

  • piperkay
    piperkay Member Posts: 132

    Here is an existing discussion thread on drinking alcohol: https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/7/topics/877021?page=2#post_5658264

    Personally, although I know that drinking alcohol is a known risk factor for breast cancer, and the CDC has said that there is no "safe" level of drinking alcohol, I still pretty freely partake. I think it's one of those "quality of life" decisions we all have to make. Obviously it's far healthier to drink far less, but to quit entirely would be to give up something I've enjoyed my entire adult life. That said, I'm in the middle of a modified - by date - Dry January, and have found quite a number of fairly tasty zero-proof options. I am definitely willing to put them into rotation even after my self-imposed dry period ends.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,631

    This is an issue that many members have considered. Putting aside excessive alcohol consumption, which can be problematic even without bc, there are also many attitudes and approaches held by those of us with bc. Personally, I'm the “all things in moderation “ type. I thoroughly enjoy whatever I want to eat or drink but I am very moderate about my intake of alcohol and sugars. I should add that I have never been a regular drinker but if a special occasion crops up or just because I want to, I will. I never feel guilty because enjoying my life is the point of living. No one wants a recurrence but eliminating foods/drinks from your diet is not a guarantee of no recurrence. I was stage IV de novo. That was 11 1/2 years ago with no progression after initial tx. I maintained a restrictive diet for the first 6 months after my dx. I hated it and simply moved to mostly healthy while allowing myself the not so good stuff in moderation. I am not suggesting that this has had anything to do with my unusual longevity but it sure did help me relax and enjoy my life. Others find comfort and feel as if they are actively fighting their bc with more restrictive diets. That is great too if it comforts and makes you happy. I hope you find the path that makes you happy!

    PS: I am having major renovations done on my home and am currently staying with my older dd and family in Napa, CA! My dd has a proper wine cellar and the valley is full of tasting rooms and other wine🍷 related places. It’s a great foodie town as well. I have no intention of denying myself the lovely pleasures of Napa!

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    As piperkay said, there is no safe level of drinking alcohol. Also, if methylfolate were a good way to reduce the health effects of alcohol, there would be a lot more than ONE doctor talking about it. Don't hang your hat on that solution.

    I drink a little alcohol, about a drink a week, typically. Sometimes I go a lot longer than other times without drinking. But I know it's not actually healthy on average, and it has a lot of calories that just aren't worth drinking, IMO. Maintaining my weight is hard enough as it is.

    You sound like you're concerned. I don't know how many cocktails is "a few a week," or how many that means each time you drink. If it's more than one per time, you might experiment with ways to reduce. Have one drink, and then substitute fizzy water or mocktails for the rest of the event. Or try a dry February -- shortest month of the year! -- and if it doesn't go well (you find yourself getting anxious or upset, or making excuses for why you want a drink anyway, or people harass you because you're not drinking) then you have some other things to think about.



  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 756

    After my first pregnancy alcohol began causing severe migraines so I quit cold turkey. I do cook with wine and other alcohol because I like the taste. Just 5 minutes destroys the sulphites which cause the migraines but the alcohol is not totally eliminated until after 3 hours. However 15 min destroys 60%, 30 min destroys 65% and an hour destroys 75% so I get the taste while reducing the cancer causing part. My daughter drinks wine spritzers while socializing to cut both the calories and the alcohol. There are ways to reduce your intake without giving up what you enjoy. I hope you find the happy medium that works for you.

  • y-not
    y-not Member Posts: 3

    Awesome! Thanks!


  • y-not
    y-not Member Posts: 3

    Thanks for your responses everyone. I do like the idea of mixing it up with a few mocktails or even "watering down" a cocktail. I will definitely try that next time we go out to dinner!

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,037

    There is a "drinking" thread but it doesn't address your question unless you are looking for great cocktail recipes. Canada had again revised its alcohol guidance. It was once 2-3 a day for women, 3-4 for men...that changed a long time ago, Then it was 1-2 a day for women, 2-4 for men. Then 1 for women, 2 for men --- per day. Now it is 1 a week for women, 2 for men. I can see people setting their smartphone alarms to go off on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. for that ONE drink.

    I eat a relatively healthy, Mediterranean style diet. I am sorry that I enjoy lamb and accept that I am a hypocrite about being an animal lover. I like to have a glass of red wine with that poor lamb.

    I used to drink more frequently but age more than MBC has more to do with that. People say take Milk Thistle. It has been shown to be beneficial to the liver but could cause other breast related issues. So my take is don't try to live on air and dew. Have a good chug of cold water before having that cold white wine or martini. Some of that knocking back might be driven by thirst and two ounces of cold vodka can go down really really fast if you are thirsty. A mocktail between is a good idea as well. But I must admit there is a conviviality that comes with sitting around socializing over a bottle of nice wine that doesn't come with soda. But you can be moderate.

    exbrnxgrl: Enjoy that wine cellar. Enjoy good food. We are having renos done and I am surprised that living amongst that chaos hasn't driven me to drink.


  • ruthbru
    ruthbru Member Posts: 46,700

    I rarely drink (maybe once or twice a month) & then very moderately (never more than 1 or 2 drinks......if I am a wedding or party, I alternate with mocktails so that I don't have more than 2 drinks with alcohol in the evening). Because I am so moderate in both how often & much I drink; I don't really worry about it & certainly enjoy the drinks I do have.

  • lillyishere
    lillyishere Member Posts: 769

    y-not, my MO from a large research center who is also a researcher told me that no more than 1 glass of wine per week. Honestly, I feel the flush if I have a sip of wine. It is the only dietary change I made, I cut alcohol cold turkey and I feel better regarding hot flashes from anti-hormone therapy. I do drink non-alcoholic beer here and there but nothing alcoholic since I am hormone positive and alcohol increase estrogen.

    Alcohol can change the way a woman's body metabolizes estrogen (how estrogen works in the body). This can cause blood estrogen levels to rise. Estrogen levels are higher in women who drink alcohol than in non-drinkers [18]. Higher estrogen levels are in turn, linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. https://www.komen.org/breast-cancer/risk-factor/alcohol-consumption/#:~:text=Alcohol%20can%20change%20the%20way,of%20breast%20cancer%20%5B18%5D.

  • lw422
    lw422 Member Posts: 1,372

    If I want a drink, I have a drink. I've given up enough to cancer and prefer to enjoy what's left of my life.

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,933

    I very seldom drink, but i had a mango margarita yesterday and it was absolutely delicious! I refuse to go on a guilt trip about having a drink or two about three or four times a year. I could make all kinds of lifestyle sacrifices but I prefer to actually enjoy this life while i have it. Having lost a very trim, fit, vegan friend to pancreatic cancer years ago convinced me that it's all a crapshoot anyway.

  • laughinggull
    laughinggull Member Posts: 509

    Alcohol consumption is not good for you. That much has been established. It increases your risk of recurrence, the risk of other cancers, other health problems. It impairs your judgment. Even those mythical health benefits of daily wine and other forms of regular consumption, which we heard about for years, keep getting debunked by research. These are facts.

    I still love alcohol, I make sure I keep its consumption very sporadic and low and moderate, and when I drink, I do it without guilt. Same with many other things that I love and enjoy but I know are not good for me. Very personal choice that boils down to the things that are important to one's happiness, and to one's risk tolerance as well.

    Cheers!

    LaughingGull

  • threetree
    threetree Member Posts: 1,155

    Before my diagnosis, I used to have a couple of glasses of wine in the evening when I'd get home from work. Chemo pretty much destroyed my taste for alcohol altogether, but over time, I have started to enjoy a glass of wine again, but just every now and then, when I meet up for lunch with a friend or on a holiday, but that's about it.

    I've often wondered if the wine I drank contributed to my breast cancer, as it is super ER+, but I'll never know. There are those who drink a lot and never get cancer, so who knows? I'm assuming the occasional glass of wine that I have now is neither here nor there at this point - especially since I just crossed the line over into stage 4. I don't think cutting all alcohol out at this point is going to make any difference. I'm going to just continue with the occasional 1 glass at lunch or on a holiday thing.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,631

    As with any of our lifestyle habits we have to weigh risk vs reward. If you believe that your eating/drinking habits contributed to your bc dx or a recurrence then it’s likely you will avoid those things and feel that even occasional consumption provides unacceptable risk. We once had a member who posted about her guilt after eating 10 potato chips. The stress she was undergoing over this was probably worse than the potato chips for her,so for her, not eating potato chips in the future was the right decision not because of the chips but the guilt/stress eating them created. I am completely comfortable with occasional consumption of all sorts of things that are “bad” for cancer and I will feel no guilt when I progress (inevitable as I am stage IV). But for those who feel guilty or might be prone to blaming that drink or cookie for cancer progression, just don’t indulge. We all have different levels of acceptable risk and each of us has to find that level so we don’t waste precious time worrying about each bite or sip that passes through our lips.