What’s All The Fuss About Alkaline Water?
I’m probably going to ruffle a few feathers with this article, but that’s okay. It’s more important for you, my readers, to know BOTH sides of an argument rather than just hearing the hype. And there appears to be a lot of hype about alkaline water and its benefits, especially in the breast cancer community.
I’ll be the first person to admit that I have always felt that keeping the body as alkaline as possible is one of the best ways to defeat cancer, and that’s one of the main selling points of companies selling alkaline water purification systems.
Look, I’m glad that people want to invest in water purification systems because our public water supplies are now known to be polluted with various heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, bacteria, viruses and other pollutants. So using a water purification system in your home is not only wise, it is very nearly mandatory. There are quite a few systems available but the main aim of this article is to discuss the possible merits of alkaline water.
The Arguments For Alkaline Water
Here are what the pro-alkaline water people are telling us that drinking alkaline water will (supposedly) do for us: (1) lowers the body’s acidity; (2) helps to detoxify the body; (3) acts as an antioxidant; (4) assists with the healthy function of cells and organs; (5) helps to control appetite; (6) offers superior hydration for cells; (7) helps to decrease your cancer risk; and (8) slows the aging process. Those were the main claims I was able to find.
It all sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? The problem is that the companies selling alkaline water systems aren’t so great with proving those claims.
One guy commented that “You can soak your fruit/veggies in it and see the wax based pesticides come off, regular washing in water doesn’t do that.” So that’s a point in its favor, I guess.
If someone has some actual proof, I didn’t see anything all that compelling. Lots of websites do link to research about alkaline water, but I didn’t find it convincing and I’m not alone.
The Arguments Against Alkaline Water
I’m not going to address all of the selling points of alkaline water, I believe you can do that for yourself on the Internet.
Because this is a breast cancer website, I am going to focus on the claim that drinking alkaline water helps to decrease your cancer risk. I found three research studies to be of interest. The first one I read indicated that tumors make their own acidity, even when they exist within an alkaline environment. 1
The second study dates back to 1987, and was done by some scientists who were developing new anti-cancer agents that selectively kill tumor cells by interfering with the pH within cells. Their research found that alkaline treatments don’t kill cancer cells, but strongly acidic treatments do. 2
Another study I found quite clearly showed that big doses of ascorbic acid (better known as vitamin C and not particularly alkaline) killed cancer cells quite effectively. 3
One of the problems with extremely alkaline conditions (called alkalosis) is that normal, healthy cells die when conditions become too alkaline. 4
According to Dr Bob Arnot, an author and nutritionist, your body is designed to adjust to its optimal pH balance no matter what you eat or drink. He says that once alkaline water enters your stomach, your body simply pours in greater amounts of acid to neutralize it.
According to Dr Mercola, if you rely solely on alkaline water you will most likely raise the alkalinity of your stomach environment, and that causes problems. The stomach is meant to be highly acidic. If it isn’t, all sorts of problems ensue such as impairment of your ability to properly digest food, higher incidence of parasites, and decreased absorption of minerals and nutrients. Low stomach acid is one of the most common causes of ulcers.
The Body Is Wiser Than The Marketers
Your body’s wisdom and ability to keep its systems in balance is quite remarkable. The fact is that your stomach has a very acidic pH which ranges from 1.35 to 3.5, due to the production of hydrochloric acid required for proper digestion. Blood, on the other hand, must always be slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.35 to 7.45. The body has buffering systems in place to keep blood within that very precise range, and any excess acid is excreted by the lungs and kidneys. That is part of their job and they are quite good at it. Regardless of what you eat or drink, the body maintains its pH balance. Your urine might be affected by the pH of what you eat, but your blood will not be. Too bad the clever marketers don’t share that little fact with you.
The Best Idea Is To Keep A Healthy Balance
The water you want to be drinking should be filtered of any harmful bacteria, particulates, chemicals, etc. It should be neither too alkaline nor too acidic.
Dr. Andrew Weil, Harvard Medical School graduate, accomplished author and nutritionist says “The health claims for water ionizers and alkaline water are bogus. Save your money. You should consider the fact that alkaline water is common throughout the western states, but to my knowledge, it has not protected anyone from the diseases and disorders that occur elsewhere in the US.”
Dr A True Ott has been quoted as saying “… alkaline water is actually dehydrating. In my experimentation and research, there is a direct correlation with water purity levels and hydrogen content. Thus, one should strive to consume the purest water possible, water rich in free hydrogen ions. Why then are people often tricked into thinking that drinking water with high TDS contaminants such as ionized water is actually a wise and healthy thing to do? Science and logic scream otherwise.”
A Better Course of Action
I believe it would be much more wise to exercise some caution when choosing something as fundamental as your drinking water. There is nothing wrong with a good reverse osmosis filtration system. Get yourself some litmus paper and find out what your tap water is. Discover for yourself which filtration system provides you with a reading of 6-8. The scale runs from 0-14 with 0 being highly acidic, 14 the most alkaline, and 7 is neutral. A healthy body is about 7.4 on the scale.
Eat a healthy diet full of vegetables and some fruits – raw organic food will protect you from cancer much better than alkaline water could ever hope to do. Avoid foods containing white flour, sugar, high salt, coffee, alcohol, hormones and antibiotics, and definitely avoid smoking.
Get plenty of exercise and involve yourself in nature – deep-breathing the oxygen-rich air of a mountain forest, lake or ocean will be much more health promoting than buying an expensive alkaline water purification system.
By all means, learn how to build a strong immune system. That is your body’s best defense against cancer cells. See my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System for ideas.
1. Causes and Effects of Heterogenous Perfusion in Tumors
2. Cytotoxicity of Compounds That Interfere With The Regulation of Intracellular pH: A Potential New Class of AntiCancer Drugs
3. Pharmacologic Ascorbic Acid Concentrations Selectively Kill Cancer Cells: Action As A Pro-Drug To Deliver Hydrogen Peroxide To Tissues
4. Prevention of Mitochondrial Injury By Manganese Superoxide Dismutase Reveals A Primary Mechanism For Alkaline Induced Cell Death
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I sure like your research skills. There are very few out there like you! Thank YOU!
Thanks for your comment. Actually, there are a few out there like me! We are very fortunate in the breast cancer community to have such good minds and information available to us. But I appreciate your thought very much. I hope you are keeping well!
Great article!! I refused aromatase. Eating cruciferous veggies. Educating myself. Going to a naturopathic doc. Very helpful.