CANCER + BAKING SODA

Our research program has developed an imaging method that can measure the acid content in tumors.  One possible application for our measurement method is to monitor the effect of baking soda on cancerous tumors.  Many media sources (newspaper, television, radio, and internet news sites) have focused on cancer and baking soda, and have only briefly mentioned the primary focus of our research on measuring the acid content in tumors with our imaging method, or have neglected to mention our imaging method. 

Due to these news stories, I have received many questions about cancer and baking soda.  I am not a MD medical doctor, so I can't give official medical advice about specific medical conditions.  But I can relay what I have heard from others, as a non-MD who is concerned for cancer patients.  However, I would strongly recommend that an individual patient should consult with primary care MD physician and ensure that any treatment options be considered in the context of current care, including the use of baking soda.

When we "feel the burn" during exercise, we are feeling the build-up of lactic acid in our muscles.  When tumors are actively growing, they also produce large amounts of lactic acid, which causes the extracellular environment in tumors to become acidic.  Therefore, tumor acidosis is considered to be a "Hallmark of Cancer". 

Neutralizing the tumor acids with baking soda has been shown by others to reduce metastases and lengthen the lifespan of some mice that have cancer.  Notably, these studies have used high levels of baking soda, have not studied the effects of baking soda on normal tissues such as kidney and liver especially during long-term exposure to baking soda.  Importantly, these studies with mice have not cured the primary cancer in almost all cases. Most importantly, we know that the tolerance for baking soda is less for humans than for mice, so that the level of baking soda that is used to treat human patients will likely need to be less than the high levels used in mouse studies.

Some patients have reported improvements after taking baking soda.  These improvements range from slowed tumor growth, to reduced tumor size, to a complete cure.  However, it is very likely that some patients have tried baking soda treatment, have not experienced improvement, and have not reported this negative result. Therefore, the variable response to baking soda among patients would appear to be similar to the variable response with mouse models of cancer.  Furthermore, the long-term effect of baking soda on normal organs has not been monitored by patients and has not been reported.  Monitoring the pH of urine and saliva has some merit to monitoring a general physiological change in the body caused by baking soda, and the duration of this physiological change, but it does not monitor the function of individual organs. Advocates for baking soda treatment do not always provide a balance of information that includes this variability of response to baking soda treatment, which is critical for evaluating whether baking soda treatment is a reliable treatment option.

Our preliminary results with mouse studies indicate that the acid level of individual tumors may be variable between subjects, between tumors within an individual subject, and even between regions of a single tumor.  Furthermore, our preliminary results indicate that treatment with baking soda does not change the acidity of tumors that are not initially acidic. These results indicate that some tumors in patients may not be acidic and thus may not respond to baking soda treatment, so that baking soda may not have potential benefit and yet may potentially harm normal tissues.

For these reasons, a reliable method is needed that can accurately measure the acid content of a tumor before starting treatment with baking soda.  A method is needed to monitor the effects of baking soda treatment on tumors and normal tissues, and this method needs to be repeatable so that the treatment can be monitored over time.  These needs motivated us to develop a non-invasive imaging method that can measure the extracellular pH in tumors and normal tissues.  In fact, I would contend that the controversy surrounding baking soda as a cancer treatment can only be resolved by obtaining more information, and monitoring tumor pH is critical information for assessing treatment with baking soda.  I would hope that this information about the pH of an individual's tumor and normal tissues can ultimately be used to tailor treatment regimens for each patient, in order to provide 'personalized medicine' for each patient, which may or may not include baking soda treatment based on the specific condition of the tumor and other treatment options that may be available.

Admittedly, the need for a diagnostic method to measure pH in tumors and normal organs is justification for my research program, including federal grant support to continue our research.   More generally, as with all other scientists, I feel the need to justify the relevance of my research.  Yet I hope that my description is taken as an objective rationale for a reliable, non-invasive method that monitors tumor pH.