The burden of cancer has been ongoing for centuries, but the cure still eludes scientists. What’s more, there has been a recent surge in the prevalence of the disease owing to heavy disruptions in cancer care. One way experts are trying to overcome this is by raising awareness of the warning signs. According to early evidence, symptoms include pain after drinking just a mouthful or two of alcohol.
The effects of cancer on alcohol tolerance are rarely discussed, but one of the few scientists to pioneer this field, Doctor Thurstan Brewin, has shed valuable light on the matter.
An area of interest for Doctor Brewin was alcohol intolerance in cancer patients and aversions to the beverage.
According to the Royal College of Radiologists: “He demonstrated that several types of alcohol intolerance, pain included, are more common than have been recognised.”
Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn’t have the proper enzymes to break down the toxins in alcohol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
It continues: “This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians.
“Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions.”
Interestingly, alcohol intolerance in many of its forms has been recognized as a complication of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Doctor Brewin wrote in the British Medical Journal (BMJ): “It has been recognized that some patients with Hodgkin’s disease have pain at the site of disease if they drink alcohol.
“A mouthful or two of beer or wine may be enough.”
What’s more, the same amount of alcohol capable of causing pain could produce other local effects, including bleeding.
Often, patients notice their threshold for alcohol diminishes too, the scientist noted.
In Doctor Brewin’s study of 155 patients with neoplastic disease, published in the BMJ, alcohol pain was experienced by 79 subjects.
He wrote: “Words like ‘terrible’, ‘violent’ and ‘agonizing’ were used by a number of patients; and there were also references to the pain being strange or hard to describe and having a quality, unlike any pain previously experienced.”
Many of the subjects discontinued alcohol intake as a result, with several describing pain so severe that they took pain relievers before drinking.
In Hodgkin’s disease, lymph tissue anywhere in the body can come under attack.
It is more common in people in their late 20s and men one the age of 50s, but the latter tends to have higher rates of Hodgkin’s.
The first symptoms generally include swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, under the arm or in the groin.
Other archetypal symptoms of cancer, such as night sweats, fatigue, and unexplained weight loss, aren’t uncommon either.
Anyone who notices unusual selling of one or more lymph nodes that persists for longer than two weeks is advised to see a doctor.
Because the disease is slow-growing, the majority of cases are picked up in the initial stages when treatment is inclined to succeed.