Ask the Doctor: Can Alkaline Diet or Alkaline Water Help Me?

Posted on Apr 14, 2013 in Introduction to Integrative Oncology

Q: I’m reading about the Warburg effect in cancer cells. Can alkaline water or an alkaline diet help me to fight my cancer?


Tumors make acid because they are growing quickly. However, the acid doesn’t make the tumor grow.

An alkaline diet can be beneficial if it’s alkaline because it’s a plant-based diet. Plant foods, exercise, and relaxation all fight cancer on their own. Alkaline diet programs claim that these things are “alkalinizing”, but the anticancer benefits are independent.

An alkaline diet can also protect bone density. Blood pH is tightly controlled. When the blood becomes acidic, the kidneys pull minerals from the bones to alkalinize the blood. So, while you can’t significantly change blood pH through diet or supplements, you can protect the bones. Tumors are more able to metastasize to brittle bones than strong ones, so protecting bones can have anticancer benefit. This is especially true in cancers that tend to spread to the bone, such as breast, prostate, and lung cancers.

On the other hand, alkalinizing supplements can be harmful.

We are designed to have acidic stomachs and basic bodies. Stomach acid digests protein and binds iron and calcium. When you swallow your snot (and we all do!), stomach acid keeps nose bacteria from infecting the lungs and small intestine. Research shows clearly that stomach acid suppressing drugs increase the risk of bone fracture and pneumonia. Alkaline water and alkalinizing supplements neutralize the protective benefits of stomach acid.

Alkaline supplements may also activate a stress response in the tumor, leading to more tumor blood vessel development (angiogenesis).

So, do eat a rainbow of plants, limit sugar, exercise, relax, and meditate or pray. In fact, slow, deep breathing is the fastest way to alkalinize the blood. And it’s free! However, don’t pursue alkaline water or alkalinizing supplements. They cost a fortune and they may be harmful.