Methotrexate is an antifolate drug used to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer. Methotrexate works by inhibiting the use of folic acid in the body. Methotrexate can be used to treat a variety of illnesses, such as Chron's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Methotrexate can be administered orally or by injection. Side effects of methotrexate include nausea, vomiting, increased bruising risk, anemia, and in rare cases, hepatitis.
Dr. Sydney Farber pioneered methotrexate while testing folic acid effects on children with leukemia. In the 1940s, Dr. Farber wrote a medical study illustrating the positive effects of methotrexate on his leukemia patients. In 1953, methotrexate was approved by the FDA as an oncology drug. Today, methotrexate is mostly used to treat arthritis and some autoimmune diseases.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take methotrexate. Methotrexate is sometimes used in conjunction with the drug misoprostol to terminate ectopic pregnancies. Therefore, it is very dangerous for women who could be pregnant to take methotrexate. According to the FDA, methotrexate is listed in Pregnancy Category X, which states that "Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use of the drug in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits."
You should not drink alcohol while taking methotrexate. It is stated in the literature accompanying methotrexate that alcohol is not recommended or condoned. Some doctors believe that taking methotrexate in conjunction with alcohol, especially regular alcohol use, is extremely dangerous and can cause liver damage and cirrhosis. According to Dr. Supren R. Patel in "A Family Physician's Guide to Monitoring Methotrexate," even a "safe" alcohol level is not recommended because there is no basis to decide how much alcohol is a safe amount. Dr. Patel states that some doctors believe that abstaining from alcohol completely while taking methotrexate is the only way to ensure a safe and healthy lifestyle.
On several health message boards, including the forum on steadyhealth.com, regular methotrexate users report having a few glasses of wine or beer now and then without bad or unhealthy results. However, these results are reported unofficially and are only the results of a few individuals, with no long term alcohol or drug usage information being taken into account.
Consuming alcohol while taking methotrexate puts you at risk for liver damage and cirrhosis. Although some patients may be able to get away with having a few drinks once in a while, it is not safe to assume that your body will react in the same manner. If you are experiencing any strange side effects from methotrexate (whether or not you have consumed alcohol), see your doctor immediately. Always be honest with your doctor about your use of alcohol.