Cancer patients often give up on flavorful foods and alcoholic drinks during chemotherapy, but in the Czech Republic, where beer is the national beverage, one company is raising awareness for the palate changes that affect oncologic patients.
Mamma Beer, the brainchild of Jana Drexlerova, a breast cancer survivor and CEO of the nonprofit support center Mamma HELP, is designed to give women suffering from breast cancer "a sense of normalcy" and aid in stimulating appetites and nutrient intake, Drexlerova told NPR.
The purpose of the non-alcoholic Mamma Beer is to disguise dysgeusia, or distortion of the taste, the site reports. Mamma also translates to breast in Latin.
Dysgeusia is a common side effect of chemotherapy and makes food and drinks taste bitter or bland. The loss of taste can be difficult for patients to cope with and can impact their intake of important nutrients.
Drexlerova told NPR that when she underwent chemotherapy “everything tasted like sand.”
She said she wanted to create an alcohol-free beer, rich with potassium and vitamin B, that would “boost nutrition and improve health during treatment.”
Dr. Karolina Hovorkova, an oncologist, has been distributing samples of Mamma Beer to her patients in Prague since April. She said the beer boosts vitamin intake, aids digestion and stimulates the appetite.
Dr. Jarmila Vavrinova, an epidemiologist on her fifth cycle of chemotherapy, said Mamma Beer helped her when she had difficulty swallowing and also eased nausea. She says she wishes more products like this were available for cancer patients.
Mamma Beer debuted this past March at the Prague Beer Festival and has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response by oncology wards, pharmacies and beer lovers.
“It is important for me to give these women back a sense of normalcy in their lives,” Drexlerova said.