BY: KATY WILLIS
If someone told you that you could drastically cut your chances of getting cancer just by changing what you eat, would you do it?
It probably depends what the diet looks like. How’s this: no processed foods, grains, or sugar; little meat or dairy; and as much raw food as possible. It’s called an alkaline diet, and it avoids acid-forming foods in an effort to increase the pH of the blood and body. It requires a substantial dietary shift, a tremendous effort, and a real commitment, but it might all be worth it. Alkaline diets could be a way to fend off cancer.
Because cancer cells thrive in environments that lack oxygen—and because alkaline diets introduce increased levels of oxygen—the diet can create an inhospitable atmosphere for cancer cells. After experimenting with cancer cells, Dr. A. Keith Brewer, a noted American physicist, concluded that cancer cells could not thrive when faced with an alkaline, oxygen-rich environment. Brewer also noted that low occurrences of cancer were tied to regions with exceptionally high concentrations of alkalizing minerals in both the soil and the water.
Meanwhile, Nancy Elizabeth Shaw, founder of The Cancer Alternative Foundation, claims that, because cancer cells also require an acidic environment to grow, multiply, and thrive, alkaline diets inhibit their growth. That applies at all stages: preventing cancer cells from growing to begin with, slowing the spread if cancer has set in, and stopping the rejuvenation of cancer cells in those already in remission.
“[The diet is] based on the principles of alkaline therapy and in part on observations of cultures without significant incidence of cancer,” Shaw says.
In comparison to modern Western civilizations, traditional societies and simpler cultures tend to have fewer instances of cancers and other diseases. Many advocates believe this is due, in part, to the prevalence of an alkaline diet.
But alkaline diets have more detractors than supporters.
The Canadian Cancer Society and the Cancer Research journal, among others, claim that alkaline diets don’t fight cancer or inhibit cancerous cell growth. Its benefits arise from the healthy eating habits that the diet entails—cutting out grains, sugars, meats, and alcohol and instead consuming larger amounts of fruits and vegetables—which reduce toxins, excess fat, and calories. The pH of a dieter’s blood, however, remains fairly constant, they say.
But even the diet’s harshest critics admit that the healthy lifestyle, weight loss, immune-function boost, increased energy, and other benefits associated with an alkaline approach can help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and diseases—but only because a healthy diet is generally key to optimizing health and staving off illnesses. There’s no evidence, they contend, that alkaline diets in particular directly combat cancer.
But, with all of the diet’s other perks, would it be so much of a loss even if they were right?