The term “alkaline” refers to water’s pH level. pH is measured in a range from 0 to 14. The only difference between this type of water and regular tap water is the pH level.

Regular tap water has a pH level of around 7.5. Alkaline water has a higher pH of 8 to 9. The higher the number, the more alkaline it is. The lower the number, the more acidic it is.

According to a study from 2013, water with a low (acidic) pH tends to have toxic effects.

It was once thought that ingesting acidic foods and drinks may increase your risk of developing cancer. It’s also been said that an acidic diet “feeds” cancer cells, allowing them to thrive and spread.

Here’s what you need to know about the potential benefits and risks of alkaline water.

Alkaline water is said to help counteract the acid that’s found in your bloodstream. It’s thought that drinking water with a higher pH can increase your metabolism and improve your body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients.

Some theorize that this will starve any cancer cells found in your body because cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment.

Introducing something more alkaline is said by some to slow or stop cancer growth by balancing your body’s pH levels.

In general, alkaline water may have a hydrating effect on your body. For some people, it might also improve symptoms related to stomach acid reflux.

However, in a body with normal function, alkaline water sold at stores to the general public will not cause a significant change, if much at all, in your body’s overall acid-base balance as measured in the bloodstream.

There currently isn’t any scientific evidence to support the idea that alkaline water can treat or prevent cancer.

It’s nearly impossible to grossly alter the pH level of your blood by eating or drinking certain food substances.

Under normal circumstances, your body has a way of naturally balancing its internal pH level without requiring a high level of thought or action on your part. Your body has multiple, complex and interrelated cellular mechanisms involved in keeping your internal pH where it should be.

If you have cancer, it shouldn’t drastically affect your overall pH level. Cancerous cells do produce lactic acid, but it usually isn’t enough to alter the pH level of your entire body.

In general, there’s very little research about the way alkalinity affects the human body. A high level of alkalinity in water is said to be potentially harmful to one’s health, though.

In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) published updated guidelines on the quality of drinking water.

The WHO hasn’t made any health-based guidelines or recommendations for the specific pH level your drinking water should have.

These guidelines state that the pH level generally doesn’t have a direct impact on consumers, as water that’s effectively disinfected with chlorine preferably has a pH less than 8.0.

If you’d like to use alkaline water, you may be able to drink it as you would regular tap water. Keep in mind that too much alkaline water may cause side effects, such as upset stomach and indigestion.

Drinking water with a balanced pH is necessary. If the water is too acidic or too alkaline, it can potentially have a negative effect on your health.

Your body isn’t designed to drink alkaline water alone. If you drink too much, it can disrupt the acid production within your stomach. This can result in indigestion or stomach ulcers.

Other risks include becoming more vulnerable to bacterial overgrowth and other germs causing infection within your small intestine. Your body may also have difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients.

If you’re currently experiencing any kidney problems or have a chronic diagnosis related to the function of your kidneys, consult your doctor before use. This type of water may be harmful to you.

You can create your own alkaline water with special filters or faucet attachments. You can also use additive drops to alkalinize your water.

In most large chain stores, water ionizers can be purchased that convert your tap water to an alkaline pH state. Bottled alkaline water is also available at most grocery stores.

There isn’t scientific evidence to suggest that this has a positive impact on cancer treatments or health. Because of this, alkaline water typically isn’t considered a covered healthcare expense by your insurance provider.

Although alkaline water is generally considered safe to drink, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it has notable health benefits.

If you do decide to give alkaline water a try, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to your water can actually reduce the alkalinity of your water because these citrus fruits are acidic.
  • If you decide to create your own alkaline water, use distilled water. This may reduce the number of additives present.
  • Don’t drink alkaline water at meal times, if possible. Drinking alkaline water with food may negatively affect your body’s ability to digest food.

If you start experiencing any unusual side effects, you should discontinue use and consult your doctor. They can work with you to determine the cause and, if needed, update your treatment regimen.