Can Eating an Alkaline Diet Lower My Risk of Getting Cancer?

Some people claim that if the fluids and tissues in your body become too acidic – that is, if the concentration of hydrogen in them is too high – your chance of developing cancer increases. Similar claims state that by reducing your intake of certain foods, you can lower your acidity levels, making the body more “alkaline” and less hospitable to cancer.

Research offers reasons to be skeptical of these claims.

While test-tube studies have shown that some cancer cells grow faster in an acidic solution, one can’t assume the same process happens in the human body. In fact, there are no human studies showing that alkaline diets can help prevent or treat cancer.

It’s important to know that it is virtually impossible to change your body’s acidity level – through diet or other means – for a prolonged period of time. The body has a complex system of checks and balances that prevents it from becoming either too acidic or too alkaline. Thus, if you eat foods such as meat and cranberries, which can temporarily raise blood acidity levels, the body responds by bringing those levels back into balance.

A final problem with alkaline diets is that they restrict intake of foods such as beans and legumes, dairy products, and fruits that contain important vitamins and minerals. For these reasons, dietitians and other health care professionals generally don’t recommend alkaline diets to prevent or treat cancer.

Visit Dana-Farber’s online Health Library for a list of healthy recipes.