The Lambda Coronavirus Variant Has Arrived In Australia Here’s What We Know So Far

We’ve seen the Alpha, Kappa and Delta variants cross our borders, but it turns out another strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has reached our shores.

The variant, named Lambda by the World Health Organization (WHO) last month, was detected in an overseas traveller who was in hotel quarantine in New South Wales in April, according to national genomics database AusTrakka.

Some reports suggest the new variant could be fast spreading and difficult to tackle with vaccines. So what sets this variant apart from others and should we be concerned?

Here’s what we know so far.

Where did it originate?

Previously known as C.37, Lambda was first detected in Peru in December 2020. Since then, it’s spread to 29 countries, seven of which are in South America.

In April and May this year, Lambda accounted for over 80 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Peru, with a high proportion of cases also in Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador.

On 14 June, Lambda was listed as a ‘variant of interest’ by the World Health Organization due to its vast spread in South America.

Variants of interest are listed as such because they have the potential to be more infectious and severe, but haven’t yet had the devastating impact of those listed as variants of concern.

On 23 June, Public Health England classified it as a ‘variant under investigation’, after six cases were detected in the UK to date, which were all linked to overseas travel.

What makes it different from other variants?

There are now 11 official SARS-CoV-2 variants listed by the WHO.

All SARS-CoV-2 variants are distinguished from one another by mutations in their spike proteins — the components of the virus that allow it to invade human cells.

For instance, the Delta variant first detected in India has two key spike protein mutations — T478K and L452R  — that allow it to infect cells more easily and evade the body’s immune response.

According to research published last week but yet to be peer reviewed,  Lambda has seven unique spike protein mutations.

A Chilean team of scientists analysed blood samples from health workers in Santiago who had received two doses of the CoronaVac vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech in China.

They found  the Lambda variant has a mutation called L452Q, which is similar to the L452R mutation seen in the Delta and Epsilon variants.

As the L452R mutation is thought to make Delta and Epsilon more infectious and resilient against vaccination, the team concluded that Lambda’s L452Q mutation might also help it spread far and wide.

While it’s possible that Lambda is indeed more infectious than other variants, it’s too early to know for sure, said Kirsty Short, a virologist at the University of Queensland.

“It’s very preliminary,” said Dr Short, who was not involved in the study.

“It’s a good starting point, but I certainly wouldn’t infer anything from that into the clinic.”

Are vaccines still effective against the Lambda variant?

The study also found signs that Lambda’s unique spike mutations could help it slip past the body’s immune response.

The results of the study suggested that the CoronaVac vaccine produces fewer neutralising antibodies — proteins that defend cells against infections — in response to the Lambda variant.

But according to Paul Griffin, who specialises in infectious diseases and vaccines at the University of Queensland, it’s important to remember that these antibodies are just one aspect of immunity.

“We know that [neutralizing antibodies] only tell a part of the story,” said Dr Griffin, who was not involved in the study.

“If that further immunity remains intact, then even with a reduction in neutralizing antibodies, sometimes that protection can still be enough.”

It’s also worth remembering that different vaccines work in different ways to respond to the virus and its variants.

“You can’t really extrapolate from one vaccine,” Dr Short said.

CoronaVac uses inactive versions of SARS-CoV-2 to kick the immune system into gear.

On the other hand, Pfizer contains a single strand of the genetic code that builds the virus’s spike proteins, while AstraZeneca contains a double-strand.

Dr Griffin said that more traditional inactivated vaccines like CoronaVac have proven to be less effective overall than others.

“As a broad category, the inactivated ones have been a little bit underwhelming, particularly compared to others that have such high rates of efficacy,” said Dr Griffin, who was not involved in the study.

While not much is known about how effective the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are against Lambda, their response to the Delta variant can offer clues.

A recent study from the UK found that two doses of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca are over 90 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation due to the Delta variant.

Should Australia be worried?

While there has only been one case of Lambda recorded in hotel quarantine in Australia so far, it’s worth keeping an eye on the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants around the world, Dr Short said.

“There’s a reason why it’s a variant that we’re watching and looking into more, but it’s certainly not at a point of panic or anything like that.”

Dr Griffin added that Lambda would need to out-compete Delta to become a major concern. “That’s certainly not what we’re seeing,” he said.  But as more people get infected, the more chance the virus has to evolve into new variants, Dr Short said.

The best way to tackle this is to focus on getting more people vaccinated, not just in Australia, but globally. “What this should emphasise to everyone is that we need global effort in the vaccination campaign,” Dr Short said.

 By: ABC Health & Wellbeing Gemma Conroy

Source: The Lambda coronavirus variant has arrived in Australia. Here’s what we know so far – ABC News

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The Hidden Dangers of Protein Powders

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Adding protein powder to a glass of milk or a smoothie may seem like a simple way to boost your health. After, all, protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle, bone strength, and numerous body functions. And many older adults don’t consume enough protein because of a reduced appetite.

But be careful: a scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder can harbor health risks. “I don’t recommend using protein powders except in a few instances, and only with supervision,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What is protein powder?

Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals. The amount of protein per scoop can vary from 10 to 30 grams. Supplements used for building muscle contain relatively more protein, and supplements used for weight loss contain relatively less.

What are the risks?

There are numerous risks to consider when using a protein powder. Among them:

  • A protein powder is a dietary supplement. The FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So, there’s no way to know if a protein powder contains what manufacturers claim.
  • We don’t know the long-term effects. “There are limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from supplements,” McManus says.
  • It may cause digestive distress. “People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder,” McManus points out.
  • It may be high in added sugars and calories. Some protein powders have little added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men.

A new risk revealed

Earlier this year, a nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Some toxins were present in significant quantities. For example, one protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA.

How could protein powder contain so many contaminants? The Clean Label Project points to manufacturing processes or the existence of toxins in soil (absorbed by plants that are made into protein powders).

Not all of the protein powders that were tested contained elevated levels of toxins. You can see the results at the Clean Label Project’s website (www.cleanlabelproject.org).

Daily protein goals

Aim for the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein intake: 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams for men. For example:

  • an egg for breakfast (6 grams)
  • 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt at lunch (18 grams)
  • a handful of nuts for a snack (4–7 grams)
  • a cup of milk (8 grams) and 2 ounces of cooked chicken for dinner (14 grams).

What you should do

McManus says that in certain cases, chemical-free protein powders may be helpful—but only with medical supervision. Such cases could include

  • difficulty eating or an impaired appetite (as a result of cancer treatment or frailty from older age)
  • a surgical incision or a pressure wound that is not healing well (your body needs protein to repair cells and make new ones)
  • a serious condition requiring additional calories and protein in order for you to get better (such as burns).

Otherwise, get protein from whole foods: nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese), legumes (beans, lentils), fish, poultry, eggs, and lean meat. “You’ll find,” McManus says, “that there are many ways to get protein without turning to a powder.”

Source: The hidden dangers of protein powders – Harvard Health

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Critics:

Bodybuilding supplements are dietary supplements commonly used by those involved in bodybuilding, weightlifting, mixed martial arts, and athletics for the purpose of facilitating an increase in lean body mass. The intent is to increase muscle, increase body weight, improve athletic performance, and for some sports, to simultaneously decrease percent body fat so as to create better muscle definition.

Among the most widely used are high protein drinks, pre-workout blends, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glutamine, arginine, essential fatty acids, creatine, HMB, whey protein, ZMA and weight loss products. Supplements are sold either as single ingredient preparations or in the form of “stacks” – proprietary blends of various supplements marketed as offering synergistic advantages.

While many bodybuilding supplements are also consumed by the general public the frequency of use will differ when used specifically by bodybuilders. One meta-analysis concluded that – for athletes participating in resistance exercise training and consuming protein supplements for an average of 13 weeks – total protein intake up to 1.6 g/kg of body weight per day would result in an increase in strength and fat-free mass, but that higher intakes would not further contribute.

In addition to being potentially harmful, some have argued that there is little evidence to indicate any benefit to using bodybuilding protein or amino acid supplements. A 2005 overview concluded that “[i]n view of the lack of compelling evidence to the contrary, no additional dietary protein is suggested for healthy adults undertaking resistance or endurance exercise”.

In dispute of this, a 2017 meta-analysis concluded that for athletes participating in resistance exercise training and consuming protein supplements for an average of 13 weeks, total protein intake up to 1.6 g per kg body weight per day would result in an increase in strength and fat-free mass, i.e. muscle, but that higher intakes would not further contribute. The muscle mass increase was statistically significant but modest – averaging 0.3 for all trials and 1.0 to 2.0 kg, for protein intake ≥ 1.6 g/kg/day.

See also

31 Vitamin Statistics to Replenish Your Nutritional Gaps

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Vitamin and mineral supplements have been popular ever since the early 1940s. These vitamin statistics reveal that more than one-third of Americans take supplements to make up for vitamin deficiency. But we need to ask ourselves, “Are multivitamins necessary, or is Big Pharma just trying to get us to spend more money?”

As the obsession with dietary supplements becomes more intense, we want to reveal some of the most interesting facts and stats on multivitamins and answer this and many other burning questions you might have. So keep reading to find out more.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the vital stats and facts on multivitamins.

The Top 10 Vitamin Supplement Statistics and Facts

  • The body needs 13 essential vitamins for normal cell function, development, and growth.
  • Our bodies require 15 essential minerals.
  • Gummy vitamins are one of the most popular types of vitamins.
  • More than two-thirds of US adults take dietary supplements.
  • Online vitamin and supplement sales in the US have reached $18.3 billion in 2020.
  • B-complex vitamins, vitamin D magnesium, and iron can help with weight loss.
  • Vitamin D supplement helps fight sunburn.
  • There are 7 types of vitamin B.
  • Vitamin E can help repair damaged cells.
  • 50% of the US population has vitamin D deficiency.

Keep reading to find out more about the vitamin/minerals/supplements (VMS) industry and the health benefits of these products.

What are Vitamin Supplements

Most Used Supplements in 2019Percentageof the USpopulationthat UsesSupplem…

MultivitaminsVitamin DVitamin CProteinCalciumB-complex vitaminsOmega-3 fatty acidsGreen teaMagnesiumProbiotics0102030405060

1. Vitamins are organic compounds that are required in small amounts to sustain life. 

(Medical News Today)

Most vitamins are present in food in small quantities. Not following dietary recommendations may result in vitamin deficiency, since our bodies can’t synthesize them. All vitamins have different roles, and we need them in varying quantities.

2. There are two main groups of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

(MedicineNet, VeryWellHealth)

The difference between fat- and water-soluble vitamins is how these vitamin groups are stored in our organism. Fat-soluble vitamins are usually absorbed in fat globules which go through the lymphatic system of the small intestines and into the blood circulation within the body. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body tissues.

Conversely, water-soluble vitamins do not stay in the body for long and therefore need to be replaced more often than their fat-soluble counterparts. Water-soluble vitamins are quickly absorbed into tissues to allow for immediate use.

3. The body needs 13 essential vitamins for normal cell function, development, and growth.

(VeryWellHealth)

Our bodies require the following four types of vitamins that are fat-soluble:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

We also need nine water-soluble vitamin types, and they include:

  • Vitamin B complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate, vitamin B12, biotin, pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin C

4. Our body also needs minerals to function correctly.

(OnHealth, MedlinePlus)

Our bodies need minerals for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, heart, and brain. Like vitamins, they’re also divided into two major groups: macrominerals and trace minerals (microminerals). Both groups are equally important, but we need trace minerals in smaller amounts.

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5. Our bodies require 15 essential minerals.

(MedlinePlus)

According to the facts about vitamins and minerals, minerals are essential for making enzymes and hormones. They’re usually absorbed through food, but in some cases, there’s a need for supplementation. The essential minerals are:

  • Macrominerals that include calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur.
  • Trace minerals (or microminerals) that include cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

However, depending on the medical issues and medications, some people may need different amounts of these minerals.

(Better Health Channel)

High doses of water-soluble vitamins can become toxic, and taking more folate than recommended can hide vitamin B12 deficiencies. There have been cases where people take 100 times the RDI of vitamins, stopping the work of their anticonvulsant drugs.

7. The vitamin absorption rate depends on 3 factors. 

(LiveStrong)

There are very few studies on vitamin absorption rates by brand, so each company has its own claims. It’s not easy to determine the absorption rate for each product since it depends on the individual’s digestive capabilities, which change with age.

The absorption rate also depends on the enteric coating — some pills need an enteric coating as protection from stomach acids, so they can make it safely to small intestines. Moreover, the absorption of some vitamins is influenced by other nutrients. For example, calcium absorption is enhanced by vitamin D.

Facts About Vitamins and Vitamin Products

The Main Reasons People Take SupplementsMore EnergyImmune HealthNutritionHealthy AgingHeart HealthOther24%20%18%18%

19%

Reasons for the Use of Supplements Population
More Energy 24
Immune Health 20
Nutrition 19
Healthy Aging 18
Heart Health 18
Other 1

Vitamins and minerals are available in several forms — liquid, powder, pill, etc. The type you need depends on your preferred way of taking them and how they work with your body. Some are available only in the form of a capsule or pill, while others are more efficient and work faster in liquid form.

8. Studies show that our bodies use 98% of liquid supplements.

(ConsumerLab.com, Medicare)

Moreover, the vitamin statistics reveal that liquid extracts need one to four minutes to assimilate, while pills and tablets need 20–30 minutes to break down. Liquid vitamins are better for people with digestion problems caused by gastric surgery or people who can’t swallow pills.

9. Vitaminwater contains 40% of vitamin C, but it also has 13 grams of sugar.

(HowStuffWorks)

Vitaminwater is packed with vitamins. Besides vitamin C, it has 20% of vitamin B3, B6, B12, and B5, each, as the vitamin water facts state. Additionally, it has 150 mg of potassium. However, vitaminwater is also packed with carbohydrates, sugar, and it has between 100 and 125 calories per serving.

(Healthline)

Gummy vitamins are chewable vitamins that come in a variety of flavors, colors, and shapes. Their taste and texture are similar to gummy candies, which makes them the perfect source of daily vitamins for children or adults who don’t prefer taking pills.

Vitamin Sales Statistics

Statistical Growth of the Vitamin MarketGrowth (inpercenta…

05101520Between 2015-2020In 2020Compound AnnualGrowth Rate 2018-2026

Period Growth (in percentages)
Between 2015-2020 17.4
In 2020 5
Compound Annual Growth Rate 2018-2026 6.4

11. Vitamin sales increased by 40% in 2018.

(Rakuten Intelligence)

The online sales of vitamins and supplements are increasing at such quick rates that they’re growing about 12% faster than the rest of the ecommerce industry.

12. Vitamin sales reached almost $31 billion in revenue in 2018.

(Statista)

When it comes to the popularity they have in America, supplements and vitamins mostly owe it to the people’s increasing interest in health and wellness. Namely, 33% of the surveyed consumers claim they use dietary supplements for wellness and health.

13. Vitamin supplement statistics reveal that 54% of online vitamin shoppers are women.

(Rakuten Intelligence)

Millennial women make up almost a third of this group, boosting the online sales of vitamins and supplements. On average, they spend $24 on this category.

14. More than two-thirds of US adults take dietary supplements.

(Statista)

A 2018 survey has discovered that 69% of the US population takes dietary supplements and spends $73.32 on average, creating a large growth in the market, according to the vitamin and supplement industry statistics.

15. Online vitamin and supplement sales in the US have reached $18.3 billion in 2020.

(IBISWorld)

Between 2015 and 2020, the vitamin and supplement market has grown by 17.4% per year, which is faster than the overall economy. Furthermore, it’s expected to grow by 15% in 2020.

16. The market is supposed to reach $210.3 billion by 2026.

(Reports and Data)

According to the current analysis, this revenue will be achieved with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4%.

Interesting Facts About Vitamins and Minerals 

Absorption Rates In Regard to Meat ConsumptionAbsorptionLevels ofIron (percenta…AbsorptionLevels ofZinc (percenta…

Meat EatersVegetarians010203040

Type of consumer Absorption Levels of Iron (percentages) Absorption Levels of Zinc (percentages)
Meat Eaters 25 40
Vegetarians 18 21

17. B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, and iron can help with weight loss.

(Healthline)

Vitamins and supplements are very helpful when it comes to losing weight. B vitamins keep the metabolism healthy and help the body process carbs, fats, and proteins, while vitamin D maintains the immune system. Additionally, iron helps the body create energy from food, and magnesium is essential for the production of energy.

18. People who don’t eat meat may need up to 80% more iron, as mineral and vitamin statistics reveal.

(Healthy Food Guide)

On average, our body absorbs only 18% of the iron we eat, but this percentage increases to 25% when we consume meat. Additionally, people who avoid meat need up to 50% more zinc.

19. Vitamin D supplementation lowers the risk of respiratory infections by 12–75%.

(Harvard University)

Research suggests that in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, supplements and vitamins can reduce the risk of viral infections. Taking multivitamin benefits people of all ages, and reduces the risk of virus-related respiratory infections, whether they have a chronic illness or not.

20. Vitamin D supplement helps fight sunburn.

(JID)

It helps with inflammation and reduces swelling and pain if taken shortly after experiencing the sunburn. Aloe vera is also a good addition.

21. Studies show that vitamin D reduces fibromyalgia pain.

(Ovid)

Women are more likely than men to experience fibromyalgia pain, and vitamin D is helpful in reducing it.

Essential Vitamins and Minerals

22. People with high amounts of vitamin A in their diet are 6% less likely to break a bone.

(Healthline)

However, stronger bones aren’t the only benefit of a vitamin A-rich diet. Eating tuna, salmon, butter, kale, carrot, spinach, mango, and papaya, will increase the levels of vitamin A in the body. This protects your eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), decreases your risk of developing certain types of cancers, and improves your immune system.

Vitamin A nutrition facts also reveal that this vitamin reduces the risk of getting acne and is essential for a healthy reproductive system.

23. There are 7 types of vitamin B.

(MedBroadcast.com)

The vitamin B complex turns food into energy. Here’s more information on its benefits:

  • Vitamins B1 and B2 can be found in cereals, potatoes, pork, seafood, and they help with energy production and enzymes that affect the muscles, nerves, and heart.
  • Vitamin B3 is found in chicken, nuts, beans, and it maintains healthy skin, digestion, and nervous system.
  • Vitamin B5 and vitamin B12 — facts reveal — are responsible for growth and development and can be found in almost all foods.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) keeps the immune and nervous systems healthy and builds blood cells. It can be found in fish, meat, bananas, and dried beans.
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin) helps the body produce hormones, and is found in bananas, mushrooms, watermelon, grapefruit, and egg yolks.
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid, folate) aids the production of blood cells and creates and maintains DNA. When it comes to prenatal vitamins, statistics reveal that it’s essential to take folic acid during pregnancy to aid the development of the fetus. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, peas, and wheat bread are especially rich in vitamin B.

24. Taking 100 mg of vitamin C per day reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases in non-smokers.

(NUTRI-FACTS, NIH)

Our bodies require vitamin C for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. Vitamin C is also an essential antioxidant, which regenerates other antioxidants in the body, as vitamin C facts show. Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in this vitamin.

25. Vitamin D protects us from type 1 diabetes.

(MedicalNewsToday, Holland & Barrett)

It also regulates calcium levels, keeping our bones healthy, and it protects us from the flu. Pregnant women, infants, and the elderly can benefit from vitamin D; it keeps their muscles strong, protects them from heart disease, and keeps their brain safe from dementia.

Vitamin D is one of the essential nutrients in dairy and milk, according to the vitamin D facts, but fatty fish, like tuna, salmon, and mackerel, are also rich in it, and so are mushrooms, beef liver, and fortified cereals and juices. Our body can also create vitamin D when exposed to the sun.

26. Vitamin E can help repair damaged cells.

(Healthline)

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and it describes eight different compounds that protect our cells from damage and prolong their life. It also gives our body protection from exposure to air pollution, cigarette smoke, and, according to the vitamin E facts, high exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight. Roasted seeds and nuts, boiled spinach and broccoli, kiwi, mango, and tomato are all rich in this vitamin.

27. Vitamin K improves episodic memory in the elderly.

(MedicalNewsToday)

Vitamin K is also essential for blood clotting, regulating calcium levels, and bone metabolism. It decreases the risk of bone fractures, osteoporosis, and prevents mineral build-up in the arteries. Oils, fruits, and leafy green vegetables are the best sources of vitamin K.

Vitamin Deficiency Statistics

28. Vitamin A deficiency affects 190 million preschoolers globally.

(CDC)

Children with vitamin A deficiency are at risk of blindness and even death caused by infections like diarrhea and measles.

29. 50% of the US population has vitamin D deficiency.

(NCBI)

Additionally, one billion people globally suffer from vitamin D deficiency, which leads to overall weakness, muscle aches, fatigue, muscle twitching, and bone fractures.

30. One in 60 babies is affected by vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).

(CDC)

The CDC vitamins chart shows that babies who don’t receive a vitamin K shot at birth are 81 times more likely to develop VKDB, which leads to internal and external bleeding, causing organ damage and death.

31. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia.

(Healthline

Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA and red blood cell production. The elderly and vegans are at a high risk of developing this vitamin deficiency, which causes mouth ulcers, tongue inflammation, anemia, weakness, and blurred vision.

FAQs

What do vitamins do for the body?

Vitamins are vital nutrients for the body, essential for normal metabolism. A lack of any of them can lead to serious health issues.

Is it good to take a multivitamin everyday?

If you think your diet lacks some of the essential vitamins, taking a multivitamin can be beneficial. However, if you have any medical conditions or take medications, consult your physician first.

Are vitamins a waste of money?

Do multivitamins work? Are the multivitamin benefits real? Yes! Multivitamins aren’t a waste of money, and they’re a good way to get essential vitamins that you don’t take in with food. However, you should always try to get all your vitamins from food.

What percentage of a multivitamin is absorbed?

Absorption percentage depends on the vitamin itself, but it varies from 25–90%.

The Bottom Line

Vitamin supplements can’t replace a well-balanced diet, but they can help our body fix a nutrient deficiency and improve our overall health. And as these vitamin statistics have shown, they’re not a miraculous cure for medical conditions. Taking too many vitamins can do more harm than good, so be careful and always consult your physician.

Sources: 

If Cancer Can’t Survive In An Alkaline Environment, Why Don’t We Use That As A Treatment – Quora

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If no disease, including cancer, can survive in an alkaline environment, then why aren’t doctors using this method to heal their patients? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mike Condron, M.D. Medicine, Meharry Medical College, on Quora:

If no disease, including cancer, can survive in an alkaline environment, then why aren’t doctors using this method to heal their patients?

This is a great question.

First of all, let’s be clear about this: human blood is in fact “alkaline”. Our blood pH is very (and I mean VERY) tightly regulated to be almost exactly 7.4 (maybe 7.35, but let’s use 7.4 so I don’t have to type more), which is in fact slightly alkaline. There are multiple systems in place to keep our blood pH at or very near this level.

So, right away, the premise of the question is off: Lots of diseases—or actually, all human diseases, can survive just fine in an alkaline environment, since our blood is alkaline.

But it is also true that if you make the environment alkaline enough, nothing can survive. You could pour, say, lye (sodium hydroxide, with a pH of about 13), onto tumor cells in a laboratory dish, or bacteria, or yeast, and you would kill them in an instant. But is this a useful therapeutic method?

If your blood were infused with sodium hydroxide you would be dead long before it got to a pH of 13. I don’t think experiments have been done to test exactly what blood pH is lethal, but I can assure you it is nowhere near 13. Probably about 7.8.

We cannot survive with a blood pH much different from 7.40. The “normal” range is 7.35 to 7.45. Any significant deviation will cause major problems, and is in fact a sign of major derangement of the systems that are designed to keep our blood pH in that range. There are buffers in the blood that chemically limit the pH, and then there are mechanisms in both the lungs and the kidneys to change the way acidity (which is just hydrogen ions) is managed, just to keep the blood pH in that range.

A deviation to either more acidic or more alkaline will cause severe physiologic disturbances, like enzymes not working properly, chemical reactions in cells not working right, and so on. That is the reason we have evolved so many multi-layered backup systems and emergency plans to keep our blood pH in that range.

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The question does not say what kind of range of alkalinity is being considered as a treatment for diseases, but we are already slightly alkaline, and we cannot survive any deviation from the very precise level of alkalinity that we need.

So, one major idea here is that you can kill a tumor, or micro-organism, or whatever else may be causing a disease, by putting it in a sufficiently alkaline environment. But you can do the same with acidity — pouring hydrochloric acid on tumor cells in a laboratory dish will kill them too. You can also do the same with heat—nothing can survive being heated to 250 F (about 120 C).

We would kill all cancers, infections, and every other disease known, by heating them to that temperature. That works great in a laboratory test dish, but we can’t subject living patients to such a treatment, obviously, just like we can’t infuse lye or hydrochloric acid into patients’ blood to kill their cancer. You can kill cancer by depriving it of oxygen, too…but that is also not a useful treatment, because it would also kill the patient.

Same for glucose — cancer cells need glucose (although some bacteria could maybe make it from things they can absorb from your body, perhaps) but your body’s cells need glucose too, so inducing a hypoglycemic state is not a useful treatment for cancer. You could make the same argument for vitamins and minerals, since cancer cells (and micro-organisms) need them too.

So, to summarize before I go on: We are alkaline to begin with, so the idea that an alkaline environment is bad for diseases is simply wrong. Making the body more alkaline will kill the patient. Lots of other things can kill cancer or other diseases, but they will all kill the patient, too, like acidity, or heat, or deprivation of oxygen, or glucose, etc.

Now let me turn to a different perspective on this question.

I have a feeling — and forgive me if I am jumping to conclusions here but I have a feeling that this question is about one of the latest trends in marketing … “alkaline” water, and “alkaline” diets.

I described earlier that our blood pH is very (and I emphasized VERY) tightly regulated. One part of that is that there is almost nothing you can eat or drink that will affect your pH. Certainly not the “alkaline water” that is being sold everywhere now. Think about this.

It’s true that pure water is at a pH of 7.0, which is neutral. But does that really matter? We eat fruits, most of which are acidic. Are we saying that fruits are bad? Or what about meat? It has a pH, like most tissues, around the same as our body, so why drink alkaline water, when you can just eat meat? Does the idea that the pH of our food affects our blood pH even make sense? No, it does not.

Bear in mind that the acidity of our stomach is impressive — the cells lining the stomach secrete acid with a pH of around 1. That is somewhere between vinegar and battery acid. And that is regardless of what you eat. So if you eat or drink something slightly alkaline (say, 7.5 or 8.0) it will be immediately overwhelmed by the gastric acid, and what enters your duodenum (the first part of the small intestine after your stomach) is going to be at the pH of your gastric secretions, more or less.

Maybe around pH 3 or 4. Is a slightly alkaline water going to stand a chance against the wildly acidic environment of the stomach? Then bear in mind this: Immediately after the stomach contents goes into the duodenum, it is met with a huge load of bicarbonate ions secreted by the pancreas, which immediately neutralizes any acidity. And this all happens before anything is actually absorbed into the body.

Another aspect of this is the concept of “alkaline foods”. This is an unfortunate misunderstanding of an almost irrelevant idea from old food physiology research, which looked at the pH not of foods, but of the ash left over after foods were burned. The vague idea that burning something and looking at the residue left over applied to our physiology of digestion has led to the concept that certain foods are “acidic” and others are “alkaline”.

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This was not the intent of the original research, but for some reason has been taken on by alternative medicine as a way of directing dietary choices, and then there was the birth of alkaline water. Wikipedia has a good article on this: Alkaline diet – Wikipedia

And now let me take a more general perspective on this question. It is in a broad category of questions: “I read somewhere [or heard, or saw in an advertisement] that doing X will cure diseases. So why don’t doctors do X?”

The answer to that is: Because X does not work in the real world, and X is being sold to people, hoping that the customer is too ignorant to know better. I know what I am about to say implies something that you have not stated, but maybe I can speak to others reading this answer who might think this: Please, if you read about something that someone is selling, and they are trying to say doctors are keeping a miracle cure from you, don’t believe them.

I am glad you asked this question, and I hope this answer gives some insight into why we don’t treat cancer or any other disease with alkalinity… or any other non-scientific method.

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