Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is a natural substance with an alkalizing effect. Cancer cells are believed to thrive in acidic environments. This has led many people to believe that sodium bicarbonate is an effective alternative cancer treatment. Can baking soda be used to prevent, treat, or cure cancer? Does sodium bicarbonate prevent tumors from growing and spreading? In this article we will discuss the use of sodium bicarbonate as an alternative cancer treatment.
Can Cancer Survive in an Alkaline Body?
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with 0 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being the most alkaline. The pH of the human body is maintained at 7.4, although the level varies in different organs, for example, the stomach has a pH of 1.3 to 3.5.1
It is well known that cancer cells thrive in acidic environments. The pH in the vicinity of a tumor can drop as low as 5.5. However, it is worth remembering that cancer cells can grow in healthy tissues with normal pH.
Proponents of sodium bicarbonate as an alternative cancer therapy believe that eating alkaline foods such as baking soda can reduce the acidity of the body. Experts argue that this is not true because the body is designed to maintain a stable pH irrespective of an individual’s diet.1
Is Baking Soda Good for Cancer Patients? What Does the Research Show?
Many research studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between acidic and alkaline environments in the body and the development and growth of cancers. The findings are complex and do not point in any one direction. Some of the research findings are listed below:
- A 2009 study found that bicarbonate injections in mice increased the pH levels of tumors and slowed the progression of metastatic breast cancer.2
- In 2013, alkalization with sodium bicarbonate drinking water was found to significantly reduce circulating tumor cells and primary breast tumor invasion in mice.3
- A 2015 study found that intermittent high-doses of antacids enhanced the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapy in patients with metastatic breast cancer.4
- In 2016, researchers injected sodium bicarbonate as a supplement to chemotherapeutic agents for hepatocellular carcinoma and found that the viable tumor remaining after treatment was almost 6.5 times lower compared to patients who did not receive sodium bicarbonate.5
- A 2017 study showed that antacids can improve the effectiveness of chemoradiotherapy treatments and reduce cancer recurrence in rectal cancer patients.6
- A 2017 study found that sodium bicarbonate therapy in mice with melanoma raised the pH of the tumor and increased response to chemotherapy.7
- A 2019 study in mice found that combined treatment of triple-negative breast cancer with doxorubicin chemotherapy and sodium bicarbonate enhanced drug uptake and the anti-cancer effect of the chemotherapeutic agent.8
Can Baking Soda Shrink Tumors?
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) cannot prevent or treat cancer, but there is some research suggesting that it may be an effective complementary therapy for cancer patients.1 Doctors warn that baking soda should be used in addition to, and not instead of, standard treatments. Moreover, patients should inform their healthcare providers of all alternative cancer treatments they are using to ensure these complementary therapies do not interfere with the current medical regimen. Also, it is never advisable to discontinue prescribed treatments in lieu of supplementary and alternative cancer therapies.
How to Use Baking Soda to Fight Cancer?
It is suggested than an average person weighing 150 pounds should ingest about 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of water with honey and lemon for taste.1 It is important to remember, however, there is no concrete evidence that sodium bicarbonate is an effective alternative cancer therapy. For example, one study showed that urine alkalization with sodium bicarbonate administration does not help maintain a high concentration or improve drug delivery of the chemotherapeutic agent in patients with bladder cancer.9
It may be helpful for cancer patients to eat an alkaline diet, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, chicken, tofu, cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, cheese, butter, milk, grains, and meat products. Over the long-term, this may bring the body’s pH down towards the lower end of the normal range.