Alcohol During Chemotherapy: Mamma HELP

The nonalcoholic, nutrient-dense drink is being distributed throughout Europe's oncology wards

Despite being a devout beer connoisseur, reaching for a chilled bottle was the last thing on Jana Drexlerová's mind during her cancer treatment.

"After chemotherapy, everything tasted like sand," the breast cancer survivor tells NPR. "When I finally got my appetite back, all I could eat was cold tomato soup, and even that was flavorless." 

That experience was how Drexlerová, a citizen of the Czech Republic (where beer consumption is more than 140 liters per capita), got the idea for Mamma Beer—a nonalcoholic, nutrient-dense brew geared specifically toward cancer patients. The beer is purposefully sweet to offset the bitter flavors that many patients undergoing chemotherapy experience, with a finish that falls between a cider and a normal beer. And since radiation can cause a loss of appetite, leading to lower nutrient intake, Mamma Beer is also fortified with potassium and vitamin B. 

Of course, cracking open a cold one isn't the end-all or be-all for cancer treatment, but research shows that it can help: Early studies reveal beer consumption can aid in digestion, while also kickstarting the appetite.

"I wanted the beer to boost nutrition and improve health during treatment," says Drexlerová, whose beer, after debuting at the Prague Beer Festival earlier this year, is now being distributed at oncology wards and pharmacies in Europe. "It was also important for me to give these women back a sense of normalcy in their lives."