Alkaline water may be helpful for hydration, but the research is still out on whether or not it can help as a cancer treatment.

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The term “alkaline” refers to water’s pH level. It’s 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. The lower the number, the more acidic.

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 acid 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 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. For some people, it might also improve symptoms related to stomach acid reflux.

However, in a body with normal function, alkaline water will not cause a significant change, if any, in your body’s overall acid-base balance 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 foods or liquids.

Under normal circumstances, your body naturally balances its internal pH level without needing 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 body.

While alkaline water can create a better pH balance, too much alkalinity is also dangerous for the body.

In general, there’s little research on how alkalinity affects the human body.

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

These guidelines state that the pH level generally doesn’t have a direct impact on people. Water that’s 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. But, keep in mind that too much alkaline water may cause side effects, such as upset stomach and indigestion.

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

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

If you’re experiencing kidney problems or have a chronic condition related to your kidneys, talk to your doctor before use as it may be harmful.

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

You can purchase water ionizers that convert your tap water to an alkaline pH in most large chain stores. Bottled alkaline water is also available at most grocery stores.

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

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

If you do decide to give alkaline water a try, here are a few tips:

  • Once metabolized, it produces alkaline byproducts that make urine more alkaline.
  • If you decide to create your own alkaline water, use distilled water. This may reduce the number of additives.
  • Don’t drink alkaline water at meal times. Drinking alkaline water with food may negatively affect your body’s digestion.

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