To drink (alcohol) or not to drink…

Shelf of liquor bottles

Yes or no to alcohol during cancer treatment?

According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, studies show evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of head and neck cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx (throat) and larynx, as well as cancer of the esophagus, breast in women and colorectum in men.

Drinking alcohol also has been linked to risk in colorectal cancer in women as well as liver cancer.  Per the National Cancer Institute, those who use alcohol in combination with tobacco products have been found to greatly increase the risk of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus, as opposed to those who use either alone.

There is no actual safe recommendation for alcohol consumption, though you may have heard that alcohol in moderation may reduce the risk of heart disease.  The American Heart Association recommends that if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation, which is defined as an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.  A drink is defined as one 12 oz. beer, 4 oz. of wine, 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits, or 1 oz. of 100-proof spirits.

Can I have a drink during my cancer treatment?

Alcohol may have some adverse effects during some cancer treatments. It is recommended to avoid alcohol during radiation therapy for head and neck cancers, as it can be extremely drying, exacerbate painful swallowing as well as contribute to dehydration.

Staying hydrated is very important during chemotherapy as well, so alcohol may be more detrimental during that time.  Even in small amounts, alcohol can irritate mouth sores or potentially interact with any drugs you may be receiving.

It is not yet clear whether alcohol use is linked to recurrence after cancer treatment; though, as discussed above, it may increase the risk for a new cancer.

If you drink alcohol, be sure to discuss your intake with your physician.

Read what the American Cancer Society has to say regarding alcohol intake.

 

What am I going to eat now?

Ramen noodle soup

Ramen noodle soup

When you’re feeling fatigued, it’s difficult enough to think of what to have for your next meal, let alone prepare it.

To help with both the guesswork and the preparation, here’s a food that many people have in their pantries, is inexpensive and takes very little time to prepare.  What is it?  Ramen noodles!

In this recipe, we increase the calories and boost overall nutrition by using common kitchen seasonings and vegetables, rather than using the high-sodium flavor packet.  (If sodium isn’t a health issue for you, you might still try using only half of any flavor packet.)

Be creative and substitute any other pasta-friendly ingredients you may have.

Mushroom Ramen

Prep Time: 7 min

Cook Time: 5 min

Serves: 1

Ingredients

1 packet Ramen noodles, any flavor*

1 pound wild mushrooms (or any type of mushroom and amount you would like)

Vegetable oil (enough to sauté mushrooms, 1-2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon butter

Garlic salt or salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Soak 1 packet ramen noodles in warm water, 5 minutes; drain. Stir-fry 1 pound sliced wild mushrooms and the garlic salt/seasonings in a cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil, 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the noodles to the skillet, toss 1 minute, then add the mushrooms.

Serve immediately.

*Leaving out the flavor packet increases the nutritional value of the dish, as the flavor packet is packed with salt.  If you want to use the flavor packet, try using only half of it, and don’t use the other seasonings when sautéing the mushrooms.

Don’t like mushrooms?  Sautee one of your favorite vegetables or a mix of them instead, such as zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, onions, peas, etc. to add to the noodles.

Add cooked ground or shredded meat for additional protein, such as ground turkey, shredded chicken or tuna fish.  Sprinkle cheese on top for additional calories, protein and flavor.