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
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
 
Last edited:

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 -
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 -
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 -

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

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

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/

 

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.

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.

 

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
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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