Lin Zhao, MD, MPH; Alexandria Cull Weatherer, MPH; Sarah Kerch, MPH; Tamara LeCaire, MS, PhD; Patrick L. Remington, MD, MPH; Noelle K. LoConte, MD
Introduction: Alcohol use increases the risk for some cancers and can cause complications during treatment. The prevalence of alcohol use during chemotherapy has not been well documented in current literature. This pilot study aimed to examine self-reported alcohol use during chemotherapy among cancer survivors as a basis for future research and interventions.
Methods: We surveyed Wisconsin cancer survivors (N=69) who participated in the ongoing population-based research study, Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW), on alcohol use during chemotherapy.
Results: Of the cancer survivors who reported receiving chemotherapy, 30.4% (N=21) reported consuming alcohol while receiving chemotherapy, and 38.1% (N=8) of those who drank reported complications. Alcohol use during chemotherapy was higher among older adults (age 65+, rate ratio [RR], 1.9; 95% CI, 0.7-4.9), men (RR, 2.7; 95% CI, 1.3-5.4), former and current smokers (former: RR, 1.6; 95% CI, 0.7-3.8, current: RR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.1-5.8), and those with non-alcohol-related cancers (RR, 2.0; 95% CI, 0.9-4.2.)
Conclusion: Alcohol use during chemotherapy is common and may increase the risk of complications. More research is needed to better understand this problem and to design effective interventions.