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Is It Safe to Combine Methotrexate and Alcohol?

By H. Lo
Updated May 17, 2024
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It is not a good idea to combine methotrexate and alcohol because both individually pose potential problems to the liver. Methotrexate is a drug that, when used over a long period of time, can cause liver damage to occur. In addition, alcohol, when used in excess, can also eventually lead to liver problems as well. A combination of methotrexate and alcohol, then, can increase a person’s risk of developing liver damage. As such, it can be said that it is not safe to combine methotrexate and alcohol.

Liver damage caused by methotrexate is actually rare. Since it is a real risk though, a person who will be using the medication for longer than usual should expect to receive a liver biopsy at some point in his or her treatment. A liver biopsy, a medical procedure that involves taking a sample of liver tissue for examination, might follow the appearance of such symptoms as extreme tiredness, loss of appetite, and pain in the upper abdomen.

Those who have already have liver problems, or who drink excessive alcohol, might not be able to use methotrexate at all, so as to avoid worsening the existing condition, or causing one. The exception is when a doctor thinks that, despite the risks, the medication will benefit the patient. Usually, this occurs when a person has a life-threatening condition. For example, a doctor might prescribe methotrexate for a person with life-threatening cancer whose risk of acquiring liver damage is already high.

Methotrexate itself is an antimetabolite. It is a medication used to treat various medical conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe psoriasis. Available in powder, tablet, and solution form, methotrexate works by interfering with cell growth. For example, to treat some types of cancers, methotrexate can slow cancer cell growth. Although methotrexate has it benefits, it is usually among the last medications that a doctor might prescribe for the conditions that it treats, and follows the unsuccessful treatment of these conditions with other medications.

One possible reason as to why methotrexate often follows unsuccessful treatments is because the medication can cause severe side effects that can be fatal. Mild side effects of methotrexate include drowsiness, hair loss, and headache, while serious side effects include confusion, vision problems, and weakness. In addition, methotrexate is associated with health risks aside from liver damage, such as damage to the lining of the intestines, mouth, and stomach, as well as a decrease in immune system activity. Some people might even develop lymphoma, which requires chemotherapy if it does not go away on its own after methotrexate treatment stops.

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