Can Alkaline Water Treat Cancer?

Medically reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MD, FACP on September 13, 2016Written by Kelli Hansen, RN, CMCN, CSA, CDP

What’s alkaline water?

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 6 to 7. Alkaline water has a higher pH of 8 to 9. The higher the number, the more alkaline it is, and the lower the number, the more acidic it is.

According to a study from 2013, water with a low or acidic pH tends to have toxic effects. It’s thought that ingesting acidic foods and drinks may increase your risk of developing cancer. It has 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 and cancer

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 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. It may also improve symptoms of acid reflux.

What the research says

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

It’s nearly impossible to alter the pH level of your blood by eating or drinking certain things. Your body has a way of balancing its pH level without requiring any action on your part.

If you have cancer, it shouldn’t affect your pH levels. Cancerous cells do produce lactic acid, but it 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 alkaline water is said to be harmful to animals and plants, though.

How to use alkaline water

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

Check out: Can you use curcumin to treat cancer? »

Risks and warnings

Drinking water with a balanced pH is necessary. If the water is too acidic or too alkaline, it can 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 within your stomach. This can result in indigestion or stomach ulcers.

Other risks include becoming more vulnerable to getting parasites within your small intestine. Your body may also have difficulty digesting proteins and absorbing nutrients.

If you are 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.

Where can I get alkaline water?

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.

What you can do now

Although alkaline water is generally considered safe to drink, there isn’t any evidence to suggest that it has notable health benefits. The American Institute for Cancer Research in no way promotes drinking alkaline water to treat your cancer or lower your risk.

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 increase the alkalinity of your water.
  • 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.

Keep reading: Alkaline water: Benefits and risks »

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