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Alcohol – the NET Effect

Social Media is currently full of ‘Dry January’ articles and of course many charities will benefit as people will be motivated if they are abstaining from alcohol for a good cause. Nothing wrong with that and no doubt some individuals will also see it as a way to cut down or at least lessen the effects of a very wet December!

I’ve never been a big drinker but I do like the odd beer now and then.  When I was diagnosed with metastatic Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs), I hadn’t really thought much about how this might affect my body. It wasn’t until I studied a bit more about my disease and the consequences of my treatment, that I decided I would cut right down.  This turned out to be a pretty drastic cut as I can count the number of alcoholic drinks I consumed last year on one hand.

So what’s the deal with alcohol and Neuroendocrine Cancer?

There are some who might say that any alcohol is not good for any cancer patient. However, if your digestive system and your liver have been compromised by both disease and treatment, then is it perhaps best not to ‘stoke the beast’?   In fact, there are specific references to alcohol and its potential effect on a Neuroendocrine Cancer patient, particularly those who suffer from the syndromes associated with Neuroendocrine Cancer, e.g. Carcinoid.

Alcohol is frequently mentioned as a trigger for Carcinoid Syndrome symptoms particularly flushing and this is possibly due to the levels of ‘syndrome triggering amines’ that it contains. It is in fact one of the 5 E’s using its synonym of ‘Ethanol‘.  Add to that the fact that many of us do feel a warm sensation in our faces (and beyond) when we drink alcohol (it can dilate blood vessels).  On the basis that some will react worse than others (…flush), then you can see why alcohol can be a trigger for flushing.  However, despite other reasons existing for alcohol related flushing, these triggers can often be important clues in diagnosing carcinoid syndrome.  Alcohol is second only to large meals in the list of foodstuffs reported to provoke reactions according to the excellent article published by Carcinoid Cancer Foundation (see figure 7).

But the odd beer does not make me flush?

I guess I’m lucky in that respect as I have read stories from people who cannot tolerate a single drop!  But there is another reason why I will not be rushing down to the pub to ‘sink a few’ and I guess this could apply to anyone who has a compromised system.   Food in your diet (and this includes alcohol) must be digested before being absorbed by your cells.  The problem with alcohol however, is that it flows directly through your body’s membranes into your bloodstream and your bloodstream carries alcohol to every organ in your body.  I don’t really want to add too much fuel to the smouldering remains of my body.

There is emerging scientific evidence linking alcohol to certain cancers – read more here in this excellent article from Cancer Research UK.

However, like anything in life, you can assess and then manage and mitigate the risks associated with an activity.  Things that can be potentially harmful in large amounts can be enjoyable with disciplined moderation.  So, I will still be maintaining my very conservative alcohol regime and I doubt if I will ever hit double figure beers in a single year.  A beer is now a very special treat at Birthdays, New Year, ‘Cancerversaries‘ and special holidays …….a reminder that I still live.





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My Diagnosis and Treatment History



  1. Gary Steven Bate says:

    My wife was a mean drunk before her diagnosis she drank 365 nites a year. I pre diagnosed her maybe a year before she got a medical diagnosis due to her fits of rage. Carcinoid rage is also a syndrome I believe Steve Jobs exhibited it. Now i have diagnosed her with something that trump’s both of those possible causes of her aberrant behavior. It’s called sociopathy, specifically narcissistic sociopath. I have suffered 14 years of abuse and the last 5 because I blamed most of her behavior on her disease. The truth however is that her behavior was likely a result of all three diseases. The alcohol consumption 2 bottles a night are probably a good part of why the 5 rounds of PRRT with Prof Baum failed to stabilize her disease.. The sociopathic side of her explains why i sit here alone as she no doubt lies somewhere dying as she disappeared out of my life 3 weeks ago, 2 days after bringing her home from major lung surgery. Point is I was fighting the setting disease. I should have dealt with the 2 hard ones as the cancer was easy in comparison. And not nearly as damaging as the alcoholism and her sociopathic personality which have all but destroyed my life. While her DR’s offer her only Captem I have a slew of other treatments that could have had I believe more potential with less side effects. The future of medicine lies not in pharmaceutical drugs. But in knowledge. The answer lies within us all. Consuming highly toxic products will not heal the body. It will ultimately damage and destroy It. We think of cancer as something it’s not, until we deprogram our brains we will not set the simplicity of what it really is nor the beauty of how we can understand that we are indeed master’s of this miracle we call a body and it’s capabilities one day will astound us.


    • Ronny Allan says:

      Wow, long and sad story Gary and it highlights how difficult it can be to be a carer. I have no answers for some of your issues here but I am truly sorry about the situation you now find yourself in.

      As for the NET connection to rage, I have to say, I don’t really sign up to that. Anxiety and depression (which can lead to rage) affects us all differently and there are many other factors that can influence rage (and you covered some here). I have read about many cancer patients who suffer rage and yet they don’t have NETs. I’m also confused about the Jobs connection as he did not have Carcinoid, he had an Insulinoma (pNET).

      At this late stage I hope you wife can get some treatment and perhaps some turnaround for you both.

      I hope you can


  2. Ed says:

    I haven’t had any alcohol since my PRRT but before that I might has well have had a large drink of fire. It burns my stomach like lava. To be honest I miss a glass of wine when I am stressed or a little depressed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Katy Marriott says:

    Hi Ronny. As an occasional social drinker I thought this was not going to be a real issue and doctors said there wasn’t a major issue with occasional drinking. I have discovered that any “fizzy” drink, which includes beer and only needs to be one glassful, tends to make me blow up like a balloon. All this pressure then needs to be released somehow! I’ll leave you to imagine the consequences!! We went out to celebrate our wedding anniversary last night and I had one very nice glass of (still) white wine. Woke up in the middle of the night burning hot and feeling completely dessicated. I read this post this morning and agree completely with your conclusions. I am now a “very special occasion only” drinker. Fortunately in NZ we have a wide range of nice fruit juices to drink. Enjoying your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ronnyallan says:

      thanks for the feedback. Yes alcohol is one of those things which has different effects on people. I can tolerate a beer now and then. I even had two on Burns night ….. 🙂


  4. edebock says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen or heard anything on the topic of NETS and alcohol. I’ve never been a heavy drinker either, but I do enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. That has not changed since diagnosis, but perhaps it’s something I should ask my doctors about.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Tony Reynolds Blog and commented:
    Cheers, have a happy new year and reflect on this message which is relevant to all, not just those suffering from cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

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