CLL and red wine?: My wife diagnosed with CLL... - CLL Support

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CLL and red wine?


My wife diagnosed with CLL and she is in W & W condition. My wife is a social drinker, she used to drink red wine once a month or twice but when she got CLL she stops drinking red wine. So we are curious to know the effect of red wine upon the CLL?

49 Replies

As far as I know, no research has been done on CLL and red wine. A red wine drinker will say it's good for you. A non-drinker will say it's no good for you.

Medical research has shown alcohol to act as an accelerant to many conditions. There were papers written 20 to 30 years ago in this regard specific to cancer. They found that alcohol doesn't cause cancer, but it accelerates the growth once the tumour has formed. So if we interpolate that information into the area of CLL, I would tend to lean in a similar direction. I could be wrong though.........

Sagarcanada in reply to seelel

Thank you very much for your answer.


Sagar, See the "Related Posts" on this page---the first two are posts in which Red Wine consumption and CLL have been discussed.

Any alcohol consumption, if not specifically told not to drink it by your Dr. and if in moderation can be enjoyed by CLL patients.

There may be instances in treatment that there should be no alcohol, but always ask your Drs. (plural) because there are other illnesses we may have at the same time as CLL.

Sagarcanada in reply to cllady01

Thank you Cllady01

I have had CLL since 2016 diagnosis but probably several years before that. I enjoy a glass of red wine a few nights a week. It hasn’t had any effect on my CLL whatsoever and I’m one of the slowest growers here. That isn’t saying it wouldn’t affect others, but like they say...moderation. Due to wanting to lose a few pounds, I’ve cut out sugars, low carbs and only enjoy my wine on the weekends. Tell your mom to enjoy a glass here and there. CLL shouldn’t make us give up simple pleasures like enjoying a nice glass of Merlot once in awhile.

Sagarcanada in reply to baq724

Great experience thank you

Eagles1 in reply to Sagarcanada

My doctor specifically asked me how much I consume. I told him a glass or 2 per night and he had no problem with it.

Sagarcanada in reply to Eagles1

thanks sharing the information.

baq724 in reply to Eagles1

Cheers! 🍷

tesoro5858 in reply to baq724

When Dr. Keating was still seeing patients at MD Anderson, at one of my appointments he wore a necktie that was all different kinds of wine. He encouraged red. 😀🍷

Thanks for your experiences.

baq724 in reply to tesoro5858

I’ve seen videos of Dr. K and have heard of his love for red wine!


When diagnosed with SLL in 2019 I asked four different oncologists (including a CLL specialist) if it was ok for me to have a glass of wine at night. All said yes. For the most part I actually stopped drinking, but recently I have started having a glass now and then of red wine.



Sagarcanada in reply to sweatbee

thank you very much for information.

I have the occasional glass of wine. I only stopped completely while in treatment because alcohol can lower your platelets and mine were already low.

Here’s some information I found about alcohol linked to cancer.

56, diagnosed with advanced stage 4 in November.......drink 2 to 3 bottles a week plus a few beers ... have done for decades. Treatment going well..... enjoy life ..... there are far worse things in life than CLL.

Wow! That is a surprise to hear! You would never see that in an AMA report. I’m glad you shared. Personally, I don’t drink alcohol. I have no negative thoughts about it. We each are different. I’m glad it has not affected you in a bad way. Sandra😊

Hello stevesmith1964

I will agree with that. I feel blessed that I have CLL rather than a lot of things which are worse. Someone once asked me how I could say that. I told them, first question my doctors ask me, "Are you having any pain ?", I can reply "No". Blessings.

Yep.... no pain no impact on my day to day life or mental well being

If you choose good quality, it won’t be problem!🍷 consume in moderation, and before or during treatment consult with your doctor👊

Oh no! Please don’t say that red wine is bad for us CLL’ers. There are so few things to cheer us up in the evenings during lock down . A glass of red wine (and the occasional malt whisky) are some of the few things left ! I think I’ll carry on anyway 😎

I echo FairweatherSailor; the odd glass of red wine of an evening and now and then a nice single malt seems pretty harmless and a source of pleasure. I wouldn't support a good piss-up regularly, just a very moderate glass. I know the US has had a very troubled relationship with alcohol and some municipalities have never relaxed prohibition but in moderation I don't see a problem.

HopeME in reply to SERVrider

I found your below quote interesting:

“the US has had a very troubled relationship with alcohol and some municipalities have never relaxed prohibition”.

Where are you from?



SofiaDeo in reply to HopeME

I think it's more a problem of excess than prohibition hahaha

SERVrider in reply to HopeME

The 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited the manufacture, transportation or sale of intoxicating liquor throughout the United States. Although it was repealed by the 21st Amendment, not all States or Counties voted to permit alcoholic liquor in their areas. Prohibition generated the growth of brewing and distilling along Canada's southern border. It probably also led to the establishment of organised crime within the US. I think that represents a troubled relationship. In Europe we have had licensing laws or laws contre l'ivresse publique, but never an outright, nationwide, ban on beers, wines and spirits. As I recall, the minimum age to purchase alcohol in the US is 21, while many States allow driving cars from 16 and have similarly low age limits on the purchase or possession of firearms and ammunition. Most European control of alcohol as been by taxation, some at eye-watering levels, with various duties on different strengths of product and/or the licensing of stills to prevent moonshine distilling and then criminal sanctions for public drunkenness and disorder. Belgium (Pop. 10million) brews, I recollect, 640 different beers. France is the heart of the wine and champagne industry, Germany has the lowest beer duty in the EU. Norwegian Linie Aquavit is unbeatable.

Letchworth New Town, founded on temperance principles, had a covenant in all the leases from the development corporation forbidding alcohol being made, stored or consumed on the premises and for a long time there was only one hotel in Letchworth that had an on-licence and then only for "residents". That has been relaxed now and pubs in the surrounding areas probably saw a decline in patronage as a result.

HopeME in reply to SERVrider

Prohibition ended 88 years ago. As far as I know there are no municipalities in the US where prohibition hasn’t been relaxed. The benefits of alcohol certainly come with a societal cost but to imply that that cost is somehow higher in the US than it is in other countries is wrong. If you have evidence to the contrary please post references.



SofiaDeo in reply to HopeME

There are still dry counties in the US, by vote of the populace.

HopeME in reply to SofiaDeo

There are towns and perhaps counties (I’m not certain) where alcohol can’t be purchased. Much of this relates to laws that were in place before prohibition. To the best of my knowledge there are no municipalities where it is illegal to transport and consume alcohol in the US.

SofiaDeo in reply to HopeME

As of 2019 there are still states that have dry counties. Plus certain Indian lands are dry, and bringing alcohol onto them (even by residents) is illegal. This article was updated March 2020.

Parts of Georgia banned alcohol even before Prohibition. Its' repeal simply verified that alcohol sales were to be ultimately decided at the State not Federal level. Arkansas is about 30% dry. Lafayette County in FL was dry even before prohibition, and still is unless there has been a recent change.

HopeME in reply to SofiaDeo

Hi Sofia

Thanks for pointing this information out. I am fairly well traveled and don’t recall a problem getting a drink anywhere in the country. That being said, I recall having to “join a club” while skiing in Utah to be able to drink. As always, you do excellent research.



SERVrider in reply to HopeME


I didn't make any reference to comparative cost differentials between the US/EU/UK for alcoholic drinks, nor in the societal costs of alcohol. That is a whole different kettle of fish. In the UK, binge-drinking imposes a massive cost in most towns in the UK - particularly at weekends and among the young - on the Police, Ambulance Service and the NHS. The drunken antics of Freshers' Week in University towns has to be seen to be believed. My own town, Guildford, was one of the first to introduce a clean-up trailer towed by a Police van where young drunks who urinate in the street are given the choice of either there and then cleaning it up with disinfectant spray and deck-scrubbers under Police supervision or the cells for the night and appear in the Magistrates' Court in the morning. We have "aggressive pedestrians" well in drink, moving between one bar and another who walk into and stroll across the road at a major junction in the town's one-way system, against the lights, and challenge drivers to force a way through. We now have pop-up urinals in the street to reduce the problem. This and dealing with the brawling, noise and assaults in the streets is a significant societal cost of excess drinking, but it is not the measured and moderate drinking of a couple of glasses of red wine which is what we were talking about.

In my limited experience in the US, having a glass of wine or beer with a meal in place of some horrible carbonated Cola is quite difficult. In France having a glass of wine with lunch or dinner is almost compulsory and asking for a Cola will get some very funny looks.

HopeME in reply to SERVrider


Thanks for the information. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

SERVrider in reply to HopeME

Oh by the way, it was the Prohibition - the lack of legal alcohol - that caused the upsurge of organised crime gangs, not the presence of the alcohol.

When I was first diagnosed five years ago, my oncologist told me that when I start feeling anxious, to “just pour yourself a glass of wine.”

I have nothing scientific to add. I drink 1-2 glasses red wine per evening. Most research points to it possibly being beneficial. Remember we are not just cll patients - heart failure is still a risk. I'll take my chances with the wine!

Whilst on watch and wait I think an occasional glass of wine is fine. I am taking ibrutinib and recently saw this study so I would think that while on treatment alcohol should be limited. The ibrutinib package instruction says to limit alcohol use as much as possible (whatever that means).

Big_Dee in reply to Srli

Hello Srli

As alcohol thins blood, I can understand that. One of my doctors gave me some good advice early on my CLL travels, "Don't do anything to change your blood". Blessings.

In W n W some red wines increased the number and intensity of my hot flashes. Since starting treatment no flashes with red wine.

I actually asked my CLL Specialist if it was ok to drink a glass of red wine 2 or 3 nights a week, and he told me there was no issue with it. So, 2 or 3 nights a week, I enjoy a nice glass of merlot and don't worry about it.

I don't drink during treatment because alcohol can depress the immune system, and I have a history of shingles & cold sores. I do break out during the year if not careful. Everyone is different, if you can enjoy without it affecting you that's great!

I also have enjoyed drinking wine with a meal or social gatherings. While on w/w I did not reframe from enjoying a nice glass of wine (or 2) .

I am now in treatment and have been on Ibrutnib for 3 months. At my last visit with my Hematologist I asked if It were ok to drink wine. He suggested a 2oz glass of wine a couple days a week is fine. Now to all you past and present wine drinkers, you know how discouraging this felt, however I thought I would give it a try.

The next day I had a 2oz glass (specifically measured) of Malbec; it was more like taking a large sip yet delicious. Well, a 2oz glass of wine , once or twice a week, would not be worth purchasing a bottle of wine nor would be enjoyable; My hubby does not drink wine.

So in answer to your question about how wine may effect CLL, I agree with most of the previous comments regarding consulting your Hematologist/CLL specialist, and using your best judgement.

As for me going forward, I enjoy a glass of wine and will continue in moderation.

While in treatment I will need to pay close attention to how my body responds, and make sure I don’t overindulge. My next bottle of Malbec will be to share, my next glass will be 4oz. :->

I hope our comments help your wife. Cheers!!

Hello Sagarcanada

Similar questions come about once a month on this forum, so you might find additional information if you want. Alcohol thins your blood. I asked my CLL Specialist about red wine as I have drank a glass of red wine each day for benefit of anti-oxidants. CLL Specialist said he saw no reason not to continue. However when I started B+R treatment, received a no alcohol instructions. I did return to one glass of red wine after one year post treatment. Blessings.

There is no reason to give up the wine unless she has problems with the liver and/or kidneys, I have had CLL since 2002 and I occasionally drink red wine, or Champagne, or a good Gin & Tonic every week.


Unless there’s kidney or liver issues or ongoing treatment (or her doctor specifically prohibits alcohol), I’d certainly continue to enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol. And do but social opportunities are in short supply just now! 😄

Life has to be lived. Cheers 🍷


Due to Coronavirus and its rather vicious effect it can have on the immuno-supressed such as the 'Grand Order of CLL' I have to stay in and be socially isolated. I find the perusal of wine labels and the extensive testing of the contents a relief. As has been said "I don't drink anymore - but I don't drink any less".

bkoffmanCLL CURE Hero

In moderation, should not be an issue in the absence of other co-morbidities.

hi Sagar. I am 59 in W&W for almost 3 years my WBC 224k. My lifestyle was already pretty healthy when I got diagnosed and that did include red wine. I believe we each have to make our own choices. I became more mindful of what I consumed and totally cut out any prepared foods. I vowed to be more active with my exercise. For me moderation is key. Living life and doing the best you can do for your body. There may be some of us with CLL that have things we do that we think may help our bodies or help our CLL and those are personal choices. I think when I was first diagnosed I stopped drinking red wine and beer while I worked thru my understanding of CLL, I was scared and didn’t want anything to make it worse. That was fear. I educated myself on everything there is to know about CLL and with that knowledge gave me power and settled my fears. If I feel like having a glass a red wine or a beer I have it. CLL is always at the forefront of my life, I worry sometimes and each time I go for my labs it is stressful for me. But I do what I can to be the best to my body. We don’t have control over our CLL so we each have to get comfortable with our choices. I hope your wife will find her way. I would like to suggest a great website that gave me so much knowledge on CLL and that is It is great that you are giving your wife your support by being on here asking questions. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my family and husband. I wish your wife the best for her journey with CLL.

I have been with CLL since 2016 and stated my treatment a year ago. Responding well to my treatment. All throughout, I have been having one to two drinks of red wine, the good one, without any problem. I take a break of two days once I finish a bottle. So far so good, and I couldn’t imagine making it without my Cabernet. So, my advice is to drink in moderation and not drown someone’s self in alcohol. Life is beautiful and worth living and enjoying some of its perks. Mine is my red wine. Good luck!

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