Sweeter dreams
August 19, 2011 9:27 AM   Subscribe

I like a whisky nightcap from time to time. Does it make sense to take a calcium / magnesium carbonate-type antacid (Rennies, Tums, Rolaids) at bedtime to neutralise the impact the whisky might have on the GI tract, even though I have no symptoms of heartburn or indigestion? I would sort of think it might make no difference at all - that these are sometimes even recommended as a dietary supplement - but I am aware that alcohol is a risk factor in upper GI cancers and I wonder if it might be a useful preventative.
posted by sagwalla to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
Whiskey is mildly acidic, but the pH of your gut is on par with battery acid, so unless you're already having problems with reflux or ulcers, I'm not sure taking an antacid is going to do all that much.

But the fact is that whiskey, like other alcoholic beverages, only becomes a risk factor for GI cancer if you're drinking two or more a day for years, and less than seven drinks a week doesn't seem to have any increased risk at all. The odd nightcap isn't going to do much.
posted by valkyryn at 9:55 AM on August 19, 2011

If you have any predisposition to reflux or heartburn, alcohol can aggravate it. I think having your nightcap with a water chaser is a good plan for that.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on August 19, 2011

I would not do this. I have seen no peer-reviewed studies or other literature indicating that antacids have any effect on the prevention of upper GI cancers (not saying they don't exist, but that'd be a pretty big finding). Also, some research points to a link between alcohol consumption and stomach cancer, but we can't yet prove causation. Even if we could, we can't yet say what it is about alcohol that might cause cancer. It's likely it has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol's effect on pH. Some research I've seen has also shown a link specifically between beer consumption and GI cancers; other research points to a possible synergistic effect between alcohol and tobacco use. Anyways, if you're concerned about it, I'd talk to your doctor or do some research on the topic, and skip the Tums chaser.
posted by pecanpies at 12:30 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing pecanpies: Antacids are not anti-carcinogenic and will do nothing to to mitigate any carcinogenic risks from alcohol consumption.
posted by smoke at 6:14 PM on August 19, 2011

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