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Can a person with CF drink alcohol? And if not why?
Thank you.

A person with cystic fibrosis can drink alcohol ... in moderation.

Excessive drink causes intoxication with neurological effects (decreased reflexes, euphoria, inappropriate behavior and coma), vomiting, hypothermia, dehydration and decreased breathing. These events can lead to death in cases of severe intoxication. Vomiting may be accompanied by aspirations favored by the comatose state with a risk of pulmonary infection which may be severe in case of poor respiratory function when you have CF.

Alcohol can also affect the metabolism and thus the drugs action, which is inconvenient for patients who often have a lot of drugs. We also have to consider a possible diabetes that could be unbalanced in case of alcohol intake.

Chronic drinking exposes to an increased risk of hepatic steatosis (fat accumulation in the liver) and cirrhosis. Alcohol is also responsible for episodes of pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis. It’s not advisable to increase the risk factors knowing that CF already increases the risk of pancreatitis and liver damage. The CF mutated gene appears to be involved in patients who develop post-alcoholic pancreatitis with an increased frequency of certain modifications (polymorphism) of the gene in this population.

Finally, addiction in general and especially alcoholism for dependent patients is a contra-indication to lung transplantation, in the opinion of most transplant teams.

There is no recommendation giving a certain number quantitating reasonable drinking in CF patients. For a non-diseased person, it is recommended to consume no more than 1 drink per day for women and two for men.

Best regards
Dr Isabelle Danner-Boucher