How reliable are the claims that an alkaline diet works for cancer? How does the body’s pH encourage or discourage the growth of cancer cells? Here are some answers…
First, let us understand what a high-alkali diet plan is. This is a diet which includes foods that have high alkali and low acid content. A high-alkali foods list would include items such as squash, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, spinach, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, basil, olive oil, limes and lemons, watermelons, etc. On the other hand, food items like meat, eggs, pasta, sugar, caffeine, tobacco, white rice, etc., have high acid content. Studies have proved that certain types of cancer cells flourish well in an acidic environment, whereas, high alkali content in the blood stunts their growth and spread. Laboratory experiments have even proved that chemotherapy shows better cancer fighting results if the area surrounding the cancer has an alkaline environment.
However, the counter argument refuting the claims of alkali-rich diet benefits with regards to cancer state that, while it has been proved in test-tube environment that alkalies are effective in killing cancer cells, it has not been proved in any actual human study. Also, refuters of this diet (which include many noted oncologists and medical practitioners) claim that the body has several mechanisms through which it automatically restores the pH balance, preventing increase or decrease of both acid and alkali content. Therefore, deliberately increasing alkali content of the body by switching to a high alkali diet won’t have any effect for any significant length of time, thereby, ruling out the possibility of having sufficient time to interact with cancer cells.
How Does it Work?
Cancer cells are anaerobic which means that they cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment. Most of us are aware that the more hydrogen content a compound has the more acidic it is whereas the more oxygen molecules a compound has, the more alkaline it tends to be. Therefore, when the blood and tissues are oxygen rich, it means that all the toxins are eliminated which ensures that cancerous tissues do not thrive in such environment. Alkali rich tissues are capable of holding 20 times more oxygen than acidic tissues, thereby further ruling out the growth of cancer cells. When the acid content in the blood increases, it usually deposits the extra acid in some tissue of the body to rid itself and restore the pH balance. This deposited acid eventually kills some of the surrounding cells which, again, turn acidic. Metabolic disorders like acid reflux, constipation, etc., are most common causes of increased blood acid content. Doctors often recommend alkaline foods for acid reflux and constipation treatment.
Is the Alkali-rich Diet Good or Bad?
A completely alkali-oriented diet may eventually backfire as complete exclusion of acids means that you totally abolish certain food groups that actually help you fight cancer. For instance, a totally alkaline diet rules out inclusion of dairy products which are a major source of vitamin D. The fact that sufficient intake of vitamin D boosts a person’s cancer survival capacity has been clinically proven. Therefore, although it is true that cancer flourishes in an acidic environment and acid rich foods encourage the growth and spread of cancer, a completely alkaline diet is not recommended either. Often, a high-alkali diet for weight loss is recommended to people who do not benefit from low carb or fad diets. A combined diet of a higher percentage of alkaline and lower ratio of acidic food is good for those who suffer from stress and chronic acidity. Extremity in anything is harmful. Therefore, maintaining moderation is a must when tampering with the body’s pH balance.
As we can see, the concept of alkaline diet to counter cancer is a disputed concept. While on one hand, scientific proof surrounding properties of acids, alkali, and cancerous cells point towards the capability of an alkali-rich diet to curb cancer, the lack of human evidence and the body’s tendency to balance all excesses (whether of acids or alkali) etch a serious question mark upon this much debated, controversial topic.