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

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 derangements 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.

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”.

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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Source: If Cancer Can’t Survive In An Alkaline Environment, Why Don’t We Use That As A Treatment?

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Sore Throats Suck. Do Throat Lozenges Help At All?

It’s hard to get through a winter without suffering sore throat, but luckily they normally get better within a few days. Sore throat is a common symptom of COVID and its newer variants. And of course, many sore throats are caused by viral colds or flu, so they can be treated at home. The most common treatment is probably throat lozenges – but do they really work any better than sucking on a hard lolly?

Why does my throat hurt so much?

A sore throat can fall anywhere between slight discomfort to a sensation of “swallowing razor blades”. Occasionally it hurts so much to swallow that people dribble saliva from their mouths, rather than swallowing it.Bacteria and viruses can invade the thin moist skin (mucosa) lining the throat. This kills many lining cells and triggers inflammation, which appears as redness, swelling and increased secretions.

Infections in the nose also cause thick mucus to travel down the back of the throat and cause further irritation. This is referred to as “post-nasal drip”. A blocked nose causes reliance on mouth breathing, which tends to dehydrate the already inflamed throat. Ouch.

What do lozenges do?

Lozenges are a solid medication intended to be dissolved or disintegrated slowly in the mouth. They consist of one or more active ingredients and are flavoured and sweetened to make them pleasant tasting. Hard lozenges are generally formed using sucrose or other sugars similar to the process for hard candy confections.

There are many active ingredients added to lozenges, including antiseptics; pain relievers; menthol and eucalyptus oil; cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan and soothing compounds. “Cough drops” and sore throat lozenges are almost identical but may contain different proportions of these ingredients.

Different brands of lozenges advertise a confusing choice of formulations. It is more common now to see brands with “triple action” ingredients that promise to be anaesthetic (to numb pain), antiseptic (to kill germs) and anti-inflammatory (to reduce redness).Unfortunately, clinical trials directly comparing the benefit of different medication types for most common conditions (head to head trials) are rarely undertaken.

This is likely due to the added complexity of such trials compared with placebo controlled trials, and medication research often being funded by the pharmaceutical manufacturer of the products. So, we have to rely on indirect comparisons instead. The traditional approach to treating sore throat is to assume lozenges or gargling with antiseptics will reduce sore throat by treating the infection causing it.

However, a limited number of trials of antiseptic lozenges (such as Strepsils and Betadine lozenges) produced only a small reduction in sore throat pain (a difference of one unit in a ten-point pain scale compared with placebo). So they do seem to provide a small degree of relief, and continue to be sold. More and more brands are including other medications beyond antiseptics in their range of throat lozenges

Checking the effects

There are some other explanations for the apparent effectiveness of any treatment for a self-limiting infection. How do we know if the symptom or infection would have lasted longer if we hadn’t used that treatment? To tell, we’d need a control group who didn’t receive the treatment, and a large sample size to overcome the role of chance causing the difference.

Relief might come from something other than the active ingredient. After all, sucking on a sweet, hard lozenge could soothe a dry throat by increasing saliva release. To test this effect, we’d need a true placebo medication – identical in every respect apart from the active ingredient.

Several well-designed and well-conducted controlled clinical trials show some active ingredients provide significantly better pain relief than placebo lozenges. These medications fall into two main groups: local anaesthetics (such as benzocaine) and anti-inflammatory agents (flurbiprofen).

A study comparing benzocaine lozenges, (now offered in many brands of lozenges) to placebo lozenges found quicker pain relief (20 minutes for benzocaine compared to more than 45 minutes for the placebo). More study participants felt relief using the medication, though very few reported complete pain relief.

A systematic research review found nine studies that supported the benefit of flurbiprofen lozenges (available in Australia in Strepfen Intensive lozenges) for a range of sore throat conditions. In one of the reviewed studies, flurbiprofen produced greater reductions in sore throat pain (47%) as well as difficulty swallowing (66%) and swollen throat (40%) over the first 24 hours compared with placebo.lite2-1

One of the common sore throat treatments sold in Australia is Difflam, which contains the anti-inflammatory medication benzydamine. One clinical trial found a greater than two point reduction in the ten point pain scale by day three in those using benzydamine versus placebo.

Are lozenges better than sore throat sprays?

A study using radioactive labelled medication demonstrated more prolonged and complete delivery of medication in the mouth for lozenges compared to spray and gargle. This seems to be the basis for the claim that sprays are less effective than lozenges.

However, drawing conclusions from such evidence is less accurate than a study that directly compares the effectiveness of the various modes of delivery on actual pain. One study compared flurbiprofen and found similar pain relief benefit between lozenges and spray.

So the choice of delivery method can be based on personal preference, including the taste of the product.

The takeaway

Sore throat lozenges and sprays provide some additional relief for the pain of sore throat, particularly those with anti-inflammatory or local anaesthetic ingredients. They are often combined with an antiseptic agent, which may or may not add any significant benefit.

Used as directed, these agents seem safe and have negligible adverse effects. They are also affordable and readily available. But this shouldn’t stop us using other treatments we know also soothe sore throats, such as a small spoonful of honey.

By: Senior Lecturer in General Practice, The University of Queensland

Source: Sore throats suck. Do throat lozenges help at all?

Critics by Karina Bray

Throat lozenges generally contain painkillers, antibacterial agents, antitussives, pectin, menthol and/or eucalyptus. We take a closer look at each ingredient to see how effective it is in reducing sore throat symptoms. Benzydamine hydrochloride and flurbiprofen are painkillers that belong to the group known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that help reduce swelling. 

A number of good-quality studies have shown that flurbiprofen lozenges and benzydamine hydrochloride given as a spray or gargle provide effective relief from sore throat symptoms, including difficulty in swallowing. Amylmetacresol, cetylpyridinium chloride, dichlorobenzyl alcohol and hexylresorcinol are antibacterial agents that help fight against disease-causing bacteria. 

But the majority of sore throats are caused by viral infections rather than bacterial, so for the most part antibacterial agents in lozenges aren’t going to help. Local anaesthetics numb the area they’re in contact with and provide temporary relief from soreness. Lignocaine hydrochloride and benzocaine are used widely in medical and dental practice for numbing the mouth and throat during minor surgical procedures, or when a tube must be inserted into the windpipe.

Benzocaine, lignocaine hydrochloride, benzydamine hydrochloride and hexylresorcinol also have local anaesthetic properties. Pholcodine and dextromethorphan hydrobromide are antitussives that are intended to help suppress dry, unproductive (non-phlegmy) coughs, which can contribute to making your throat sore. But a wide-scale review of trials testing antitussives (mainly dextromethorphan) found that they were no more effective than a placebo for treating coughs in most cases. And a much higher concentration of dextromethorphan was used in the trials than is found in throat lozenges.

Menthol is made synthetically or obtained from mint oils. It’s the component of peppermint oil that’s thought to be responsible for most of its therapeutic properties. It gives a cooling and soothing sensation when you inhale or eat it, thanks to its ability to chemically trigger cold-sensitive receptors in the skin. But the effect of nasal decongestion from menthol is subjective – studies show that although people feel decongested after inhaling menthol vapour, there’s no actual improvement in the nasal airway when airflow is measured.

Just like menthol, eucalyptus is thought to act as a nasal decongestant. However, there’s a lack of controlled, clinical studies to support its effectiveness. Pectin is commonly used as a thickening agent in foods like jam and jelly. In throat lozenges it’s used to coat the throat, and in doing so has a soothing effect in much the same way as a teaspoon of honey would.

Related contents:

Sore throat lozenges and sprays provide only a small reduction in throat pain News-Medical.Net

Over 50s to be offered Covid booster as new variants spread LBC News

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Monkeypox Likely Spread By Sex at 2 Raves In Europe

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann. That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spilled across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia. Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization.

Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed. So far, public health agencies in Europe have confirmed cases in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

In a statement on Friday, the WHO said that the recent outbreaks “are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries”. It said it was “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected”.

It is not yet clear why this unusual outbreak is happening now. One possibility is that the virus has changed in some way, although currently there is little evidence to suggest this is a new variant. Another explanation is that the virus has found itself in the right place at the right time to thrive.

Monkeypox may also spread more easily than it did in the past, when the smallpox vaccine was widely used. WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge warned that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate”.

He added that all but one of the recent cases had no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox was endemic. The first case of the disease in the UK was reported on 7 May. The patient had recently travelled to Nigeria, where they are believed to have caught the virus before travelling to England, the UK Health Security Agency said.

There are now 20 confirmed cases in the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Friday. Authorities in the UK said they had bought stocks of the smallpox vaccine and started offering it to those with “higher levels of exposure” to monkeypox. Spanish health authorities have also reportedly purchased thousands of smallpox jabs to deal with the outbreak, according to Spanish newspaper El País.

Australia’s first case was detected in a man who fell ill after travelling to the UK, the Victorian Department of Health said. In North America, health authorities in the US state of Massachusetts confirmed that a man has been infected after recently travelling to Canada. He was in “good condition” and “poses no risk to the public”, officials said.

By:

Source: Expert: Monkeypox likely spread by sex at 2 raves in Europe

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Trial Finds Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Risk of Autoimmune Disease

New data from a large placebo-controlled clinical trial investigating the effect of daily vitamin D and omega-3 use indicates the supplements may reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disease. At the five-year follow-up, the trial found those taking vitamin D alone, or in conjunction with omega-3, showed lower rates of autoimmune disease compared to those taking placebo.

Called VITAL, the ongoing trial has enrolled more than 25,000 participants who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: vitamin D and omega 3 (2,000 IU plus 1 gram of fish oil per day), vitamin D plus placebo, omega-3 plus placebo, or double placebo. At the time of recruitment the participants were aged over 50 and generally healthy.

The trial has been running for over five years now and several studies have already been published looking at the effect of these supplementations on cancer risk, cardiovascular risk and depression. For the most part, the trial has found little benefit to vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation in otherwise healthy subjects.

This latest analysis of the trial data looked at the emergence of newly diagnosed autoimmune diseases during the five-year trial. Autoimmune diseases in the trial included rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, autoimmune thyroid disease, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Overall, after five years, those taking either vitamin D alone or vitamin D alongside omega-3 displayed significantly lower rates of autoimmune disease compared to those in the placebo group. Little difference was seen in rates of autoimmune disease between the placebo group and those taking omega-3 alone, suggesting the benefits detected were primarily due to vitamin D supplementation.

Another important finding was the longer the trial went on, the lower the risk for autoimmune disease in the vitamin D group. Looking at the data from just the last three years of the trial saw 39 percent fewer cases of autoimmune disease in the vitamin D group compared to placebo. This suggests the greatest benefits of vitamin D supplementation in terms of autoimmune disease comes from a cumulative effect over several years.

“This is the first direct evidence we have that daily supplementation may reduce AD [autoimmune disease] incidence, and what looks like more pronounced effect after two years of supplementation for vitamin D,” said senior author Karen Costenbader.

“We look forward to honing and expanding our findings and encourage professional societies to consider these results and emerging data when developing future guidelines for the prevention of autoimmune diseases in midlife and older adults.”

This study is, of course, not without limitations. Despite the large number of trial participants and the robust protocol there was a relatively small volume of autoimmune disease diagnoses. Due to the slow onset of many autoimmune diseases a longer follow-up will be necessary to better understand the efficacy of these supplements as preventative tools.

The trial also solely focused on older healthy adults so there is no indication the results are transferable to younger populations or those already diagnosed with autoimmune disease. However, Costenbader is relatively comfortable recommending the vitamin D/omega-3 combination to those over the age of 50 looking for ways to reduce their risk of autoimmune disease.

“Now, when my patients, colleagues, or friends ask me which vitamins or supplements I’d recommend they take to reduce risk of autoimmune disease, I have new evidence-based recommendations for women age 55 years and older and men 50 years and older,” noted Costenbader. “I suggest vitamin D 2,000 IU a day and marine omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), 1,000 mg a day – the doses used in VITAL.”

Another recently published study looking at vitamin D and overall mortality tracked more than 20,000 people taking either vitamin D or a placebo for several years. It found no difference in all-cause mortality or from cancer and cardiovascular disease when comparing the vitamin D group and placebo.

Source: Trial finds vitamin D supplements may reduce risk of autoimmune disease

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U.S. Set To Recommend Booster Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Most People, Reports Say

U.S health officials are expected to recommend Covid-19 vaccine booster doses for Americans across all eligible age groups eight months after they received their second vaccine dose, to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the more infectious delta variant spreads across the country partially blunting the efficacy of existing vaccine regimens.

According to the Associated Press, health officials could announce the booster recommendation as soon as this week, just a few days after an additional vaccine dose was recommended for people with weakened immune systems.

The Biden administration could then begin rolling out the third shots as early as mid-to-late September, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed officials.

The first booster shots will likely be administered to nursing home residents, health care workers and elderly Americans who were among the first people in the country to be inoculated.

The Associated Press notes that the formal deployment of the booster doses can only take place after the vaccines have been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration—an action that is expected for the Pfizer jab in the next few weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine in the coming weeks which will formally open the door for it to be offered as a booster to millions of Americans who have already received two vaccine doses.

Big Number

59.4%. That’s the percentage of the eligible U.S. popuplation (12 years of age and older) that has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with 70% receiving at least one dose, according to the CDC’s tracker.

Surprising Fact

An estimated 1.1 million people have already received an unauthorized booster dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, ABC News reported last week, citing an internal CDC document reviewed by the broadcaster. The number is likely an undercount as it only accounts for people who received a third dose of an mRNA vaccine but does not count those who may have received a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then received a second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Key Background

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems. The targeted move was aimed at providing better protection for people who have undergone solid organ transplants or those diagnosed with conditions that are considered to be immunocompromised.

Unlike the eight-month gap being proposed for booster doses for the general population, immunocompromised patients can receive their third dose as early as 28 days after their second shot. The FDA’s decision followed similar moves undertaken by Israel, France and Germany who began administering an additional dose to vulnerable populations amid the threat of the more infectious delta variant of the virus.

Contra

As the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the U.S. questions about the effectiveness or even the necessity of a booster dose remain unanswered. While some vaccines are slightly less effective against the variant, it is still unclear if protection against more severe disease and hospitalizations have been impacted significantly as well.

This makes any decision to authorize booster doses remains a controversial one in the global context as critics decry the fact that developed nations are administering an additional dose at a time when several poorer nations have limited access to vaccines. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September.

Further Reading

U.S. to Advise Boosters for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination (New York Times)

US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters at 8 months (Associated Press)

More Than 1 Million Have Received Unauthorized Third Dose (WebMD)

FDA Authorizes Extra Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Those With Weakened Immune Systems (Forbes)

How Good Are Covid-19 Vaccines At Protecting Against The Delta Variant? (Forbes)

I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay or drop me an email at siladitya@protonmail.com.

Source: U.S. Set To Recommend Booster Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Most People, Reports Say

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