Fighting cancer is one of the greatest challenges facing the medical profession today. One option explored by some cancer sufferers is following an alkaline diet. Proponents of this approach to cancer treatment suggest that increasing the alkalinity of the body's pH can destroy harmful cancer cells. Many medical professionals caution against the alkaline diet for cancer though, because it encourages the elimination of essential food groups, resulting in vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Also, the approach has not been sufficiently tested in human studies as of 2011.
There is some scientific evidence to support the theory that certain types of cancer cells replicate faster in acidic environments. Thus, following an alkaline diet could retard the growth of new cancer cells. Supporters of the alkaline diet for cancer report that increasing the alkalinity of body pH can be achieved through simple diet changes. They suggest that foods high in sugar, fat, processed ingredients and animal fats increase acidity, so avoiding these foods could increase the alkalinity in the blood.
Those who caution against the alkaline diet for cancer state that it is not possible to change the body's pH through diet, since the body has a complex system to maintain pH levels despite changing factors. While there may be very temporary pH changes after eating certain foods, many medical professionals report that these changes cannot last for any significant period of time. Avoiding certain food groups, as a result, will only deprive the body of vital nutrients without little positive effect.
Studies also suggest that cancer cells cannot survive well in environments rich in oxygen. In an alkaline environment, cells are able to maintain higher oxygen levels and more efficiently remove waste products. Subsequently, the alkaline diet for cancer may inhibit the growth of new cancer cells by facilitating an oxygen rich environment. In response to the claims of increased oxygenation, critics of the alkaline diet suggest that changes in oxygen levels are too small to be significant, and that the process of cancer cell multiplication is far more complex than the oxygen theory implies.
It is not advisable to attempt to prevent or treat cancer without guidance from a qualified medical professional. With limited scientific studies regarding the alkaline diet, much of the evidence for its use is anecdotal. Any changes in diet should be discussed with a physician, and regular monitoring is necessary to ensure health choices are in the best interest of each individual patient.