Alcohol consumption with CLL: HI all, my husband... - CLL Support

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Alcohol consumption with CLL

Jenferdog profile image

HI all, my husband has recently been diagnosed with CLL stage 4. He is fit and well, currently only symtom being enlarged nodes in the neck. He likes a drink or two of either wine or whisky (large ones!) most nights, and I wondered if anyone has any informed opinions on whether or not alcohol should be restricted with this horrid disease? My own opinion is that anything but light drinking isn't advised for anyone but I would really have a hard job convincing hubby of that! (Don't get me wrong, he is a long way from having a drink problem.)

Keep well everyone.


18 Replies


Everything in moderation!

I have to say I'm talking from a reformed social drinkers point of view here.

When I was diagnosed there were certain enzymes on my blood tests that pointed to the cll affecting my liver. I was told to stop drinking for a few months advised to drink shandy! I did love my whisky at night and a few pints at weekends!

Problem was I didn't like shandy lol

I stopped drinking totally that was in 2000 not had a drop since and liver is fine!

Horses for courses Sue check with the medics but I guess a few sherberts are ok.


Jenferdog profile image
Jenferdog in reply to Cammie

Thanks, I think his liver function is normal at present but will as when we see consultant next week.

Best wishes

Ladydi49 profile image
Ladydi49 in reply to Jenferdog

Sometimes liver enzymes can be elevated without the nature of this disease

I was a drinker, couple of large rums of an evening, but when I read about how my liver needs to be healthy to withstand the assault by chemo I dropped it to the odd glass per week with some weeks being completely dry. LFTs are good and the effects of chemo slight. Now a bottle of rum lasts a month instead of a week! Mind you, if they ever find tea overdosing is fatal then I'm done for it!!

Hi I have found that with Cll my ability to drink is very much restricted. I can have a glass (a small one) with no ill effects. Two gives me a hangover. So the after effects makes drinking much less attractive. I should say that I was someone who enjoyed a drink and gets a dog in a manager attitude when others are having a good drink. I think Cll effects us all in different ways so I would keep an eye on the bloods and just wait and see how it goes. Best wishes

Newdawn profile image

If you google, you'll find a plethora of advice advising anyone with any illness or condition to give up alcohol or limit it to one a day. And in reality we all know it makes good sense. It's clear the liver and other organs have to work overtime to process it and anyone with liver and or kidney problems need to take the advice very seriously. I'd certainly never drink whilst undergoing treatment.

That's the official line and I monitor my liver and kidney function accordingly. But have I given up alcohol completely? Absolutely not! I tend to drink socially once a week and I believe the impact on my stress levels makes it worth it. I have the very odd glass of brandy but makes sure I have at least 3-4 non drinking days a week. And it doesn't bother me greatly...I'd too have more of a problem giving up tea and coffee.

Problem with home poured drinks is they can be deceptively generous!

As long as his blood levels are not being affected, his liver and kidney function isn't being impaired and his doctor hasn't advised against drinking, I can see where your husband is coming from on this Sue. Of course this isn't medical advice but sometimes a little of what we fancy actually can do us good. And I checked this out with my doc. But watch those measures! :-)


Jenferdog profile image
Jenferdog in reply to Newdawn

Thanks Newdawn, I always read your responses to other posts - you make a lot of sense!

PaulaS profile image

Hi Jenferdog,

I found myself heartily agreeing with the responses above. For most people, a little of what you fancy does you good.

But another aspect of this, is when alcohol is combined with certain medications. Some medicines should definitely NOT be combined with alcohol. People are usually given clear warnings when started on such meds, but not always... I''m not a doctor, but I suspect that there might be other medications where the connection with alcohol is not so recognised, but problems may also occur, for some people.

As we get older, lots of us are on a variety of medications (not necessarily because of our CLL). When alcohol is added to the mix, the results can be unpredictable.

There are a wide range of different side effects that different people experience, with different medications. Many are under-reported, rare, and not yet acknowledged by the drug companies. It's possible that for some people, these side effects might be aggravated by alcohol.

I developed an intolerance to even small amounts of sunlight, after taking Lansoprazole for many years. My doctors could not understand this, but it's now recognised as an extremely rare side effect of Lansoprazole. I know that's nothing to do with alcohol, but the principle is there - that new side effects, new adverse interactions between various factors, keep being discovered.

And people vary enormously in the way they react to things. Alcohol in moderation may be fine for some, but not so good for others. Lots of factors are involved. (eg various health issues but specially liver health, our genetic makeup, the medications we're on, lifestyle stuff etc). We are all unique and there are so many unknowns about the way our bodies work.

It seems like your husband copes well with alcohol at the moment, Jenferdog, so what I've just written probably isn't very relevant to him right now. But I thought I'd add it to the pot of things on this subject.

Best wishes,


When I was first diagnosed, I was going to live and eat like a saint! it soon became clear that this just wasn't sustainable ( at least not for me!) i do however try to eat more healthily now whereas before, my diet almost totally consisted of nothing but junk. I did, and still do, enjoy the odd glass of wine and bar of chocolate. Our lives have already changed irreversably but we must still enjoy ourseves so I agree, everything in moderation . Peggy

Reading all of the comments above has nicely clarified my own situation. Moderation seems to be the key, modified slightly by the view that some of us with CLL can be more adversely affected than others and that even the experts do not have sufficient information to give specific advise. For me, until I broke my leg 20 years ago and did without alcohol for 3 months, I was never sure up until then whether or not I was an alcoholic.

Grrr, I hadn't finished and must have clicked "Submit Reply". I gained confidence after the 3 months with no drinking but reverted to being a heavy drinker. Since my condition has deteriorated with CLL I find that the after effects of having a drink have got worse to the extent that my drinking has reduced to an occasional glass of wine at social occasions. For me, my body has been telling me that alcohol is hurting! But this is for my body and I wish your husband the best of luck as he moves forward.

Hello David, I like yr input. What is the most important thing to do nutritional ly for CLL? Do you take green tea supplements, how much? Im new. What do u recommend I do?

Hi, Dana,

I don't really recommend anything, but I do wish you well in your journey. For me a healthy diet with minimum alcohol works best. But I don't always follow my own advice.

Over the last 15 months my weight has reduced from 14st to 12st 7lbs running very late to a target of 11st. I am currently 5ft 9.5" having gone up half an inch with heavy breathing exercises on a Bournemouth University trial. Yes, you can increase your height by improving your posture with breathing exercises!

So by the summer my BMI should be within the "healthy" range.

We enjoy life, both of us with health problems, but have a plan to reach a 100 together.

Good luck to you.


I too liked the odd glass of wine just at weekends .

My old GP (he has retired now ) always used to say to me ,I hope you are having a glass of red wine each day .I never had one every day except on holiday .

Now since being on treatment I only have a small glass if I fancy one which isn't very often .

I must admit for me if I was anxious a glass of wine I found relaxed me .

I think though with most things whether it be food or drink it should be all in moderation .

Enjoy your day everyone

Brenda 😇

Thanks for the replies, they have been helpful. I will monitor the after effects myself to see if he has more aches and pains than normal, its difficult sometimes as you age to know what is normal!

Okay, I get it, I really like to drink, sometimes hard, sometimes not. I feel like I'm not going to give up anything I enjoy or think I enjoy. I'm 78 years old and an widower, different than your situation. I feel anything that gives one pleasure is a good thing. If it relieves the tension and worries why not.


So what everyone is saying is that I can continue going down the club and having a 3 beers on Wednesday night and 5 on Friday, when I go on medication.

My hematologist said it's ok for me to drink 4 or 5 ozs of wine with more than 7 total per week so could have 2 or 3 a couple times a week if not the 1 a day with dinner. Most of the time I don't have any but once in awhile if I'm going through a rough patch I'll have a glass as it relaxes me

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