Anti-Alcohol Drug Found to Kill Cancer Cells and Lower Patient Death Risk

An anti-alcohol drug commonly used to deter addiction patients from drinking alcohol has been found effective at lowering the death risk among those who also suffer from cancer. Disulfiram, which is commonly sold under the brand name Antabuse, has already been linked to a lower risk for cancer in previous studies. The data surrounding this new finding could help save the lives of thousands of Americans who struggle with both alcohol use disorder and cancer.

How Antabuse is Used in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Antabuse is commonly used in alcohol detox treatment to prevent patients from relapsing and going back to alcohol use. Those who consume alcohol while using Antabuse will experience a wide range of unpleasant side effects. A person who uses Antabuse can experience adverse reactions when drinking alcohol for up to 14 days after taking the medication.

Symptoms that occur when drinking alcohol on Antabuse:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Vertigo
  • Sweating
  • Extreme thirst
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting

Antabuse is normally administered to alcohol addiction patients no sooner than 12 hours after the last drink. This medication is commonly used as part of alcohol detox treatment, and may be used by patients in recovery for several months or years to prevent alcohol relapse.

How Antabuse Affects the Body

Anti-Alcohol Drug

Antabuse has been shown to disable cancer cells.

The active ingredient in Antabuse is disulfiram, which prevents a certain enzyme from turning alcohol into acetic acid and producing its normal euphoric effects on the body. Antabuse causes high acetaldehyde levels to build up in the bloodstream, which causes adverse symptoms when a person drinks alcohol.

In the new study conducted at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, researchers set out to learn more about the anti-cancer effects of Antabuse. They found that patients who were already taking Antabuse for alcohol dependency and who also suffered from cancer faced a lower risk for death when continuing Antabuse treatment even after their cancer diagnosis. Those who stopped taking Antabuse after being diagnosed with cancer experienced a higher death rate.

The study authors say that Antabuse fights cancer by metabolizing in the body in a way that “freezes” and disables cancer cells. The research team plans on conducting future trials on humans that could hopefully bring the team closer to developing new, effective cancer treatments.

Lowering the Risk for Cancer in People with Alcohol Use Disorder

Heavy drinking and alcohol abuse has been linked to a higher risk for cancer. Alcohol can inhibit the body’s ability to produce healthy cells and repair damaged DNA. Repeated, heavy alcohol use can also drive inflammation and lead to scarring on major organs, as well as problems with hormonal imbalance that have been linked to cases of breast cancer.

Getting help for alcohol use disorder is one of the most effective ways to also lower the risk for cancer, which is often exacerbated by heavy alcohol use. Alcohol use disorder is commonly treated using alcohol detox and therapy, and may involve the use of other medications that can relieve alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you love needs help overcoming alcohol abuse, understand there are many nearby treatment centers that can help. Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-351-3840(Who Answers?) to speak with an experienced addiction counselor ready to help you or your loved one achieve lifelong sobriety from alcohol.

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