Debunked: Alkaline Diets Cure Cancer

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
So the claim here is that cancer cells don't grow as well in an alkaline (basic) environment, therefore eating food that makes your blood more alkaline should help fight tumors. It can make sense at face value, since test tube experiments do show that tumors in alkaline environments grow more slowly than in acidic environments, but when we look into this it is just plain false. There are three main reasons I will cover to explain why this is so, but first here is the claim in its own words.

http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/alkaline-diet-for-cancer#.VJ2gsaDEBA
Studies have shown that in the test tube, cancer cells and tumors thrive and grow in a more acidic environment. When the level of acid is lowered, tumors grow much more slowly. If this behavior occurs in the test tube, it stands to reason that cancer cells in the body would also be detrimentally affected by an overall alkaline environment. It would also make sense that if the body’s pH is acidic, then the growth of cancer cells and tumors would be encouraged. By eating mostly foods that make the body’s pH more alkaline, there would be less of a chance for cancer cells to develop and grow. So, by adjusting the diet, it is actually possible to create a less hospitable environment for cancer cells, thus improving a person’s chances of experiencing good health.
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Just to clarify before moving on, pH is measure on a scale of 0-14 with the basic end being 14 and the acidic end being 0. So why does this claim not hold up? Let's start the first reason by talking about pH.

1) You generally (there are exceptions) can't change the pH of your blood. The pH of your blood is tightly regulated by 3 main things: Buffer systems (carbonic acid-bicarbonate, proteins, and phosphates), exhalation, and kidney function. Blood pH is generally kept between 7.35 and 7.45 in most areas of the body. The lungs, however, will maintain a pH of about 7.6 to increase oxygen uptake. This system is hugely important because pH needs to be kept in a certain range or else you can die. Why? Well, as I just mentioned, pH can dictate oxygen uptake and delivery in the body. Another important reason is that most proteins and enzymes must be in a certain pH to function. A pH change of 0.1 can mean the difference between working correctly and not working at all.
I mentioned that there are exceptions and studying these exceptions was one way we figured out how and why pH is so important. Diabetics, for example, can not uptake sugar very well, so their bodies must use other sources of energy like fats and proteins. When your body only uses these sources, it creates acidic by-products called ketone bodies. These by-products can cause the condition known as keto-acidosis, which can cause the body to quickly go into shock and cause death. The first symptoms of this can be seen when pH falls below 7.35 and severe acidosis involving coma and death occurs when pH drops below 7.00. Similarly, alkalosis can occur when the blood pH rises above 7.45 and can also result in death by convulsions.
The point here is that the body highly regulates the pH of your blood because if it swings one way or the other, you're looking at some serious consequences. This is the reason why your diet will not significantly effect your pH.

2) Experiments showing that cancer cells don't grow as well in alkaline environments as they do in other conditions does not necessarily translate to a treatment for a patient. There are no references to these experiments in the sources I have found and I could not find a corroborating article on PubMed, but let's talk about what we know about cancer. All things considered, cancer cells are often not too different from normal cells. If they were super different, the immune system wouldn't have a problem getting rid of it. A global change in pH that kills cancer cells will likely kill normal cells as well and could possibly cause some of the acidosis/alkalosis symptoms mentioned earlier. This is because cancer cells share most, if not all, of their proteins in common with normal cells. If they don't work, neither do your cells. In other words, normal cells would probably have also been killed in these test tube experiments, making the treatment untranslatable to the clinic.

3) Some articles claiming the benefits of these alkaline diets would contest what I said in my second point by saying that cancer cells actually depend on an acidic environment. Indeed, the microenvironment around tumors is slightly more acidic, but the logic here is backwards. The acidity is actually created by the cancer cells rather than the cancer depending on or resulting from it. This is because cancer cells do not perform metabolism normally. Instead of using glycolysis (breaking sugar) and sending the pieces through the Krebs cycle, it heavily uses glycolysis. This is known as the Warburg effect. This is what your muscles do when you work out and they need fast energy, they produce lactic acid. Cancer cells seem to do this all the time, resulting in a more acidic microenvironment. But as long as their proteins can work, they don't care about the pH of their environment. This means that they are no more dependent on the surrounding pH than your normal cells.

In the battle against cancer, it is important to distinguish between treatments that are helpful and treatments that are either useless or downright harmful. Diet actually can be important in the prevention of cancer, but not because of any effects it might have on the pH of your blood.

I will try to update my sources with more web links if needed but what I've written here is supported by:
http://drbenkim.com/ph-body-blood-foods-acid-alkaline.htm
The Biology of Cancer chapter 2
Principles of Biochemistry chapters 5 and 6
 
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captfitch

Senior Member.
Such a well written and understandable post! I just got through with cancer and I've heard a LOT of bunk about cures. I don't usually spend much time refuting them... Most of the time I politely say thanks and change the subject. Cancer doesn't care what food you eat I think. The best diet is one that you enjoy and that makes you happy.
 

eline65

New Member
I first heard about this from a friend that loves organic and vegan foods. I was willing to consider it as a possibility for a healthier body (minus the cancer cure bunk), they then said I could also drink lemon juice to help alkalize myself..... <fascepalm>
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
Just been reading up on a few lists of so called Alkaline foods, Gotta say some of these people have a strange view as to what is alkaline. Most citrus fruits are listed (lots of citric acid in those), a couple suggest raw onions (its the sulfuric acid that makes your eyes water when you peel them), pineapples ( a real cocktail of acids including citric, malic and quinic - in such levels that prolonged contact can erode finger prints). Other so called alkaline foods include apples, grapes and rhubarb (you can polish brass with that stuff).

and most of the sites have little boxes trying to sell you stuff as well.....:rolleyes:
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
The lemon juice thing is real - but you're only 'alkalising' your urinary system, which may be a good preventative for kidney stone formation.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
Well, perhaps I'm a victim of bunk myself then -

The popular belief that lemons become alkaline during digestion isn't upheld by science. Under no circumstances can an acidic food alkalize your blood, said Kat Day, a chemist and science blogger in Oxfordshire, England. Because foods are not known to alter the pH of your blood or body, lemons won't acidify you either. Drinking lemon juice with water may increase the acid level of your urine, however, which is a sign that your kidneys are doing their job -- ridding you of excess acid.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/498141-can-adding-lemon-juice-water-make-water-alkaline/
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Not a great level of detail there though, and contradicted by this seemingly more scientific sounding text, but which is also selling 'zazen water' so may be dubious -
How are Lemons Alkaline Forming?

This is because lemon acids, such as citric acid, are weak acid and the lemon's overall nutrients are alkaline. The End Product of Metabolism, otherwise known as Ash and its effects on the body make it alkalising.

Citric acid is a "weak" acid; meaning once it's done it's job in providing energy in metabolism it's eliminated easily via sweat and respiration. It is alkaline forming in that it stimulates the formation of calcium carbonate in the body. Calcium carbonate then neutralizes the "Strong" acids in the body, acids that can only be removed through urination, including uric acid, which is the end result of protein metabolism.

In fruits such as the lemons, the mineral content is also taken into consideration, and the lemon's alkaline minerals are many, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium so after the citric acid has done its job and is easily eliminated, one is left with a very Alkaline Ash (end product) from the fruit.

In a similar way, Malic Acid (another "weak" acid) attacks Lactic Acids (A "strong" acid) making foods like apples and it's unprocessed vinegar also an alkalizing source.

The list goes on... It's how the elements of the food, inclusive of its "acids" are utilized by the body and whether it's a weak acid or a strong acid in how it can be eliminated, and the food's nutrient content such as it's vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, etc. that a food's ash ends up being.
http://www.zazenessentialwater.com.au/_blog/zazen_blog/post/How_is_lemon_juice_alkaline_forming/
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I'm still not sure whether it makes urine more or less acidic - the body compensating for the acid may make more alkaline products, but I don't know how this affects the urine, but this paper seems to suggest it inhibits stone formation.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16482864
And here is the blog post that summarises that -

And following from this it IS possible to affect urine pH by eating or drinking certain substances. For example, if you’re a cystitis sufferer, you might have used a sodium citrate-containing product such as Cymalon. During a cystitis attack the urine becomes more acidic. These products work by creating a buffer effect in the bladder, which means they raise the pH slightly towards neutral and, crucially, stabilise it so that it doesn’t drop again (or, indeed, rise).

Lemons contain citric acid, the salt of which is citrate. So it’s possible eating a lot of lemons (or drinking a lot of lemon juice) could have a similar effect. I found a paper on this very topic. The researchers found that drinking lemon juice produced a small increase in urinary pH from about 6.7 to 6.9. So, ok, it went up a tiny bit (remember that pH 7 is neutral) but given that the error in their measurements was +/- 0.1, that’s virtually no change at all.

That said, the main focus of their interest was actually treatment ofkidney stones, which are, in some cases, caused by a build-up of calcium oxalate which then forms crystals. The researchers found that the lemon juice helped the body to get rid of oxalate, and they’re not the only ones to draw this conclusion. Magnesium can also help prevent kidney stone formation (magnesium-rich foods include leafy greens, nuts and seeds, oily fish and whole grains – basically all that ‘healthy diet’ stuff, funnily enough).

So in summary (and I stress, I am not a medical doctor and you should take your GP’s advice over that of some blogger on the internet), if you suffer from kidney stones, lemon juice might be helpful. It certainly won’t do you any harm (well, except possibly to your tooth enamel). A generally healthy diet will also, not surprisingly, be beneficial. Lemon juice might have a very tiny effect on urine pH. However if it does, the result is only to raise the pH a tiny bit closer to pH 7 (i.e. neutral). It does not make your urine alkaline.


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So I guess you are correct and I'm wrong in my thought that lemon juice can alkalise the urine, but it may be still be a good kidney stone preventative.
 

Freak

Active Member
I have no idea either, just seemed to make more sense that way.

Thanks for that last link. Being a kidney stone sufferer myself I've looked for some things to reduce the size and number of them, and have heard about the lemon juice thing helping. Though I never looked that much into it to find out if it really does or how much. Maybe I'll start drinking lemonade.
 

Freak

Active Member
Yea, I know. Thats how most of the "cures" work. One of the orderlies at the hospital told me to try something, so I went and got a bottle. Then read the instructions. Drink 1-4 drops with 4-8 12 oz gasses of water 4 times per day. Well no wonder it works for kidney stones.

I hate drinking water though.
 

derwoodii

Senior Member.
sadly seem not so good for a blogging believer


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-28/wellness-warrior-jessica-ainscough-dies-from-cancer/6271036

Jessica Ainscough, a self-described "wellness warrior" who attempted to stave off a rare form of cancer with natural healing, has died at age 30.

Ms Ainscough's blogs had a large following on social media, and posts to her website drew praise from sufferers of many forms of illness as well as criticism from those who did not agree with her alternative remedies.
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reading the spartan diet and additional unpleasant stuff your required to undertake by this Gerson Therapy.. I'm thinking you don't actually live any longer it just hmm feels like it.
 

Lisa P

Active Member
sadly seem not so good for a blogging believer


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-28/wellness-warrior-jessica-ainscough-dies-from-cancer/6271036

Jessica Ainscough, a self-described "wellness warrior" who attempted to stave off a rare form of cancer with natural healing, has died at age 30.

Ms Ainscough's blogs had a large following on social media, and posts to her website drew praise from sufferers of many forms of illness as well as criticism from those who did not agree with her alternative remedies.
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reading the spartan diet and additional unpleasant stuff your required to undertake by this Gerson Therapy.. I'm thinking you don't actually live any longer it just hmm feels like it.

I would not try Gerson therapy or an alkaline diet if I got cancer however I would like to support Jess in the decision she made and provide a bit more information. I don't know Jess personally however some of my friends do. When Jess was told chemo no longer worked and the next best thing they could offer was to chop her arm off she was brave enough to try something else instead. Jess knew full well what she was doing and knew it may not work but was willing with the full support of her parents and boyfriend to give it a go. A link to her local paper if anyone cares to read about it...

'After being diagnosed with the rare epithelioid sarcoma cancer in 2008, Jess always embraced a positive and proactive attitude to her life and health. Throughout almost seven years with the disease, Jess worked with some of the world's best healers and oncologists undergoing both conventional and unconventional therapies.
Conventional treatments at the beginning appeared to help temporarily. However when the cancer returned and doctors explained there were no real guaranteed options at that stage, Jess elected to devote herself to unconventional treatments which included Gerson Therapy for two years.
http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/family-pays-tribute-to-jessica/2564425/
 

Lisa P

Active Member
Here is a link to Science Based Medicine regarding Jessica. The article is long so I haven't finished reading it yet. It may help me to remove the emotion I feel and look at this situation objectively. Difficult for me to read but I need to do it.
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-gerson-protocol-and-the-death-of-jess-ainscough/

I first encountered Ms. Ainscough about a year and a half ago and have been intermittently following her career ever since. I’ve even blogged about her three or four times during that period over at my not-so-super-secret other blog. However, for whatever reason, even though it was my intent to write about her here on Science-Based Medicine, I never got around to it. Her death prodded me to write now, because her tale is a cautionary one important enough that I believe there should be something written here about it.
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...it would have been very difficult not to feel great sympathy for Ainscough in 2008. It’s hard to imagine facing the prospect of losing one’s arm at age 22 as the only chance at long term survival. Even as a middle-aged guy, I wonder if, faced with the same choice as Ainscough, I would be able to do it. Certainly at the very least, losing an arm would end my career as a surgeon. To be honest, I just don’t know. No one does, until she’s faced with such a decision.
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Leifer

Senior Member.
Health fads often contradict themselves.
Another common fad is to drink a daily dose of unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (acidic).....and it's claimed to help cure cancer as well.
Another alternative treatment for cancer is Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate, an alkaline).

Quite ironically, these two are sometimes recommended to be mixed together as a home remedy/treatment.....when in fact they essentially neutralize each other. What's possibly left in this concoction is: the sodium from the Baking soda, and some apple bits.

2 tables spoons of ACV in a glass of water twice a day, mixed with a table spoon of honey, is supposed to cure everything from cancer and the common cold and flu to helping you lose weight. It’s the best wound and scar treatment there is.
http://truedemocracyparty.net/2013/...-98-of-all-germs-natures-perfect-health-food/
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How to Take Baking Soda & Apple Cider Vinegar (link)
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
You don't want to alter the acid balance of your stomach really.
It's possible to overdose on baking soda too and there are some scary sounding side-effects, though I imagine the dose needs to be sustained or high.

To avoid injury do not take sodium bicarbonate until the powder is completely dissolved and it is very important not to take baking soda when overly full from food or drink. Consult a doctor if severe stomach pain occurs after taking this product.

“I nearly died after taking this stuff,” said William Graves, who suffered a rupture through the wall of his stomach in 1979 after taking baking soda mixed in water for indigestion after a big meal. The 64-year-old resident of Bethesda,Md., who is editor of National Geographic Magazine, said that only emergency surgery saved his life and that six more operations were needed to repair the damage. Though there are only a few documented cases users need to know of the dangers.
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Sodium bicarbonate side effects can include metabolic alkalosis, edema due to sodium overload, congestive heart failure, hyperosmolar syndrome, hypervolemic hypernatremia, and hypertension due to increased sodium. In patients who consume a high calcium or dairy-rich diet, calcium supplements, or calcium-containing antacids such as calcium carbonate (e.g., Tums), the use of sodium bicarbonate can cause milk-alkali syndrome, which can result in metastatic calcification, kidney stones, and kidney failure.

In rare cases, metabolic alkalosis develops in a person who has ingested too much base from substances such as baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Severe metabolic alkalosis (ie, blood pH >7.55) is a serious medical problem. Mortality rates have been reported as 45% in patients with an arterial blood pH of 7.55 and 80% when the pH was greater than 7.65.

http://drsircus.com/medicine/sodium-bicarbonate-baking-soda/side-effects-contraindications
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NavyDoc

New Member
So the claim here is that cancer cells don't grow as well in an alkaline (basic) environment, therefore eating food that makes your blood more alkaline should help fight tumors. It can make sense at face value, since test tube experiments do show that tumors in alkaline environments grow more slowly than in acidic environments, but when we look into this it is just plain false. There are three main reasons I will cover to explain why this is so, but first here is the claim in its own words.

http://www.acidalkalinediet.com/alkaline-diet-for-cancer#.VJ2gsaDEBA
Studies have shown that in the test tube, cancer cells and tumors thrive and grow in a more acidic environment. When the level of acid is lowered, tumors grow much more slowly. If this behavior occurs in the test tube, it stands to reason that cancer cells in the body would also be detrimentally affected by an overall alkaline environment. It would also make sense that if the body’s pH is acidic, then the growth of cancer cells and tumors would be encouraged. By eating mostly foods that make the body’s pH more alkaline, there would be less of a chance for cancer cells to develop and grow. So, by adjusting the diet, it is actually possible to create a less hospitable environment for cancer cells, thus improving a person’s chances of experiencing good health.
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Just to clarify before moving on, pH is measure on a scale of 1-14 with the basic end being 14 and the acidic end being 1. So why does this claim not hold up? Let's start the first reason by talking about pH.

1) You generally (there are exceptions) can't change the pH of your blood. The pH of your blood is tightly regulated by 3 main things: Buffer systems (carbonic acid-bicarbonate, proteins, and phosphates), exhalation, and kidney function. Blood pH is generally kept between 7.35 and 7.45 in most areas of the body. The lungs, however, will maintain a pH of about 7.6 to increase oxygen uptake. This system is hugely important because pH needs to be kept in a certain range or else you can die. Why? Well, as I just mentioned, pH can dictate oxygen uptake and delivery in the body. Another important reason is that most proteins and enzymes must be in a certain pH to function. A pH change of 0.1 can mean the difference between working correctly and not working at all.
I mentioned that there are exceptions studying these exceptions was one way we figured out how pH is important. Diabetics, for example, can not uptake sugar very well, so their bodies must use other sources of energy like fats and proteins. When your body only uses these sources, it creates acidic by-products called ketone bodies. These by-products can cause the condition known as keto-acidosis, which can cause the body to quickly go into shock and cause death. The first symptoms of this can be seen when pH falls below 7.35 and severe acidosis involving coma and death occurs when pH drops below 7.00. Similarly, alkalosis can occur when the blood pH rises above 7.45 and can also result in death by convulsions.
The point here is that the body highly regulates the pH of your blood because if it swings one way or the other, you're looking at some serious consequences. This is the reason why your diet will not significantly effect your pH.

2) Experiments showing that cancer cells don't grow as well in alkaline environments as they do in other conditions does not necessarily translate to a treatment for a patient. There are no references to these experiments in the sources I have found and I could not find a corroborating article on PubMed, but let's talk about what we know about cancer. All things considered, cancer cells are often not too different from normal cells. If they were super different, the immune system wouldn't have a problem getting rid of it. A global change in pH that kills cancer cells will likely kill normal cells as well and could possibly cause some of the acidosis/alkalosis symptoms mentioned earlier. This is because cancer cells share most, if not all, of their proteins in common with normal cells. If they don't work, neither do your cells. In other words, normal cells would probably have also been killed in these test tube experiments, making the treatment untranslatable to the clinic.

3) Some articles claiming the benefits of these alkaline diets would contest what I said in my second point by saying that cancer cells actually depend on an acidic environment. Indeed, the microenvironment around tumors is slightly more acidic, but the logic here is backwards. The acidity is actually created by the cancer cells rather than the cancer depending on or resulting from it. This is because cancer cells do not perform metabolism normally. Instead of using the glycolysis (breaking sugar) and sending the pieces through the Krebs cycle, it heavily uses glycolysis. This is known as the Warburg effect. This is what your muscles do when you work out and they need fast energy, they produce lactic acid. Cancer cells seem to do this all the time, resulting in a more acidic microenvironment. But as long as their proteins can work, they don't care about the pH of their environment. This means that they are no more dependent on the surrounding pH than your normal cells.

In the battle against cancer, it is important to distinguish between treatments that are helpful and treatments that are either useless or downright harmful. Diet actually can be important in the prevention of cancer, but not because of any effects it might have on the pH of your blood.

I will try to update my sources with more web links if needed but what I've written here is supported by:
http://drbenkim.com/ph-body-blood-foods-acid-alkaline.htm
The Biology of Cancer chapter 2
Principles of Biochemistry chapters 5 and 6


Thank you. When you explain both the acid/base buffer system and how drinking bicarb isn't going to increase your systemic PH, you get called a corporate shill.
 

Chemfusion

New Member
Thank you. When you explain both the acid/base buffer system and how drinking bicarb isn't going to increase your systemic PH, you get called a corporate shill.

And if it could alter the pH of your blood....you'd be in serious trouble....
 
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