Some alternative medicine practitioners advocate using sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, to prevent and treat all types of cancer. However, according to the American Cancer Society, scientific evidence does not back using sodium bicarbonate for this purpose. High doses can cause serious problems and even death, warns the society, so consult a doctor before using sodium bicarbonate.
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Sodium bicarbonate's use to treat cancer is based on the theory that cancer is caused by yeast infections caused by Candida albicans and that the baking soda can kill this yeast. Scientific evidence does not support claims that baking soda can treat cancer, nor does it support the theory that baking soda can kill yeast. The American Cancer Society calls such claims “contrary to widely-accepted basic facts of oncology and microbiology.” There is no scientific evidence that most people who suffer cancer have yeast or fungal infections, according to the society.
Alternative medicine practitioners who advocate sodium bicarbonate usually recommend either taking it orally or administering it intravenously. It is sometimes administered into an artery that supplies blood to the tumor. In cases of lung cancer, sodium bicarbonate is sometimes administered as a solution directly through your windpipe into your lungs. Numerous websites and Internet videos promote this treatment, notes the American Cancer Society, but none offer credible or reliable scientific evidence that it works.
Baking soda is useful for disorders in which your blood or urine is too acidic, notes the American Cancer Society. Bicarbonate’s effect on pH may someday prove useful when it comes to tumors, according to a March 2009 “Cancer Research” study, but more research is needed. The external pH of solid tumors is acidic due to factors such as increased glucose metabolism. Acid pH may stimulate tumor cell invasion and metastasis, notes lead study author I. F. Robey. However, the 2009 study produced mixed results when it came to using bicarbonate to lower pH and inhibit cancer cell metastases.
You should not use sodium bicarbonate for longer than two weeks unless your doctor specifically advises you to, according to Medline Plus. If you are severely ill, treatment with sodium bicarbonate can cause organ damage, according to the American Cancer Society. Relying on this treatment for cancer and delaying other treatments may have serious consequences. Baking soda can have less serious side effects, including increased thirst, gas and stomach cramps. Side effects that merit medical attention include nausea, severe headaches, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, weakness, frequent urge to urinate, appetite loss, swollen feet or legs, blood in the urine, black and tarry stools, and slow breathing. Baking soda can interact with some medications, so inform your doctor of medications you take before using it. Also inform your doctor if you have congestive heart failure, high blood pressure or kidney disease or if you’ve had bleeding in your intestine or stomach. Baking soda increases the amount of sodium in your diet. If you need a sodium-restricted diet, consult your doctor before trying it.