Cancer is one of the scariest diagnoses a person can hear from their doctor.
Researchers are always working on understanding cancer better so it can be fought more efficiently.
One interesting thing that's been discovered about cancer cells is that they create an acidic environment around themselves (Khalid O. Alfarouk, 2011). This environment is suitable for cancer cells, but not good for normal cells.
Many people feel that not only does cancer create acidity in the body, but it can also take hold easier if the body is already acidic.
What Are Acidity and Alkalinity?
The words acid and alkaline refer to the pH of something or the measurement of its hydrogen content.
The range of pH possibilities is from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 being neutral. Substances with a pH of less than 7 are acidic, while those higher than 7 are alkaline.
The pH of human blood needs to be around 7.4, slightly alkaline, to live. Your body will keep your pH in that range no matter what, unless a serious medical condition changes it, which will quickly lead to death.
Has the pH Of the Human Diet Changed?
When people discuss eating an alkaline diet, they are modeling it after our ancestors' hunter-gatherer way of life. As our civilization has moved more toward an agricultural society, there has been a change in the pH of our diet. This is due to an increase in protein intake and a change in the mineral content of the soil in which many foods are grown as well as a reliance on processed foods. The result is that many people are deficient in potassium, and their diets are more acidic (Frassetto L1, 2001). As people age and their kidneys become less able to deal with this acidity, problems can begin to occur.
However, it important to note that some scientists believe that many of our ancestors did actually consume an acidic diet high in animal proteins without incurring the many health problems that we see today.
It's also important to understand that, while the pH of the foods you eat can affect your urine and saliva pH, it doesn't affect your blood pH.
Many Conditions Appear to Be Affected By the pH of the Diet
Researchers have found that there are many conditions that can be improved with the intake of an alkaline diet. These include:
- Maintaining muscle mass as people age (Dawson-Hughes, 2008)
- Lower back pain (Vormann J, 2001)
- Chemotherapy efficacy (Raghunand N, 1999)
Can an Alkaline Diet Prevent Cancer?
There hasn't been any research done that proves the benefit of an alkaline diet in preventing cancer.
Cancer has been shown to grow in alkaline environments as well as acidic ones. It does grow faster in acidic conditions, but as we discussed above, it can create that environment itself.
However, given the other benefits that an alkaline diet is linked to, as well as cancer's definite link to an acidic environment, the possibility exists that an alkaline diet may reduce cancer development. More research is necessary.
How to Achieve an Alkaline Diet
Although whether or not an alkaline diet can prevent cancer is controversial and not truly known, it's still a healthy diet to follow. It eliminates processed foods, refined carbs, and meat. Here are some of the things you will eat if you follow an alkaline diet:
Here are some of the things you will avoid in order to follow an alkaline diet:
- Processed foods
Bottom Line on the Alkaline Diet
While an alkaline diet doesn't affect your blood pH, it is generally a healthy way to eat. Decreasing processed foods full of sodium and added sugar can reduce your risks of heart disease and diabetes. Many people experience weight loss when they switch to this way of eating, which can also decrease your risk of many health conditions.
An alkaline diet can increase your muscle and bone health, decrease your risk of developing kidney stones, and improve lower back pain. It may enhance the effectiveness and reduce the toxicity of chemotherapy treatment.
So, while most doctors won't encourage the alkaline diet because of its ability to change your body pH, they are unlikely to complain if you're on it because it's otherwise pretty healthy.
- Dawson-Hughes, H. S. (2008, March). Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.
- Frassetto L1, M. R. (2001, Oct.). Diet, evolution and aging--the pathophysiologic effects of the post-agricultural inversion of the potassium-to-sodium and base-to-chloride ratios in the human diet. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.
- Khalid O. Alfarouk, A. K. (2011, Jan. 17). Tumor Acidity as Evolutionary Spite. Retrieved from Cancers: 10.3390/cancers3010408.
- Raghunand N, H. X.-M. (1999, June). Enhancement of chemotherapy by manipulation of tumour pH. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.
- Vormann J, W. M. (2001). Supplementation with alkaline minerals reduces symptoms in patients with chronic low back pain. Retrieved from PubMed.gov.