Is it time to rehabilitate Dr. Tullio Simoncini?
He’s the former Italian doctor who claimed cancer was caused by fungi. Therefore, it could be cured by taking baking soda – sodium bicarbonate. Clearly he was a fraud and a quack, right?
It now appears he may be partially correct, at least in regard to pancreatic cancer.
And that could also affect how we eat to prevent other cancers, kidney disease and heart problems as well.
Only, you don’t need sodium bicarbonate.
And recent research shows another “quack” theory – the Alkaline Diet – contains some truth, although it’s oversimplified.
Recent Research Shows Fungi Play a Role in Pancreatic Cancer
In 2019, the science journal NATURE published an article on how common fungi could drive pancreatic cancer. Basically, when your gut microbiome is not in good balance, fungi migrate from your gut into your pancreas.
In both people and mice, pancreatic tumors contained 3,000 times more fungi than normal healthy pancreases.
Antifungal medications seemed to slow down the growth of these tumors. It also boosted the tumor’s response to treatment, making standard chemotherapy more effective.
The Microenvironment of Cancer
The New York Times wrote an article on the NATURE study, saying scientists were beginning to look at cancer’s surroundings as well as the tumor in isolation.
According to a 2009 article in the journal Cancer Research, the tissue surrounding malignant tumors tends to range from 6.5 to 6.9 pH. That’s significantly more acidic than normal tissue, which is 7.2 to 7.5 (slightly alkaline).
We also know tumors secrete acid, and acidic tissue stimulates the spread of cancer.
Therefore, science does validate some aspects of the Alkaline Diet.
What is the Alkaline Diet?
Basically, it says we are healthier when we’re slightly alkaline than when we’re acidic.
Therefore, we should eat a lot more of the foods that make us alkaline (fruits and vegetables) and less of the foods that make us acidic (meat and refined sugar).
It is easy to dismiss because it does make oversimplistic claims.
Your body is not one pH throughout. Your stomach is HIGHLY acidic, and that’s what you want, to digest your food.
No matter what you eat, your body maintains your blood pH at 7.36-7.44 – or you soon die.
Based on the research mentioned, cancer does seem to grow more easily in tissue that is slightly acidic. Whether that “causes” cancer is open to question. But, since tumors themselves secrete acid to make their surroundings more acidic, and that stimulates the spread of cancer, clearly cancer likes acidic tissue.
The Kidney and Heart Connections
Diets containing large amounts of animal protein induce metabolic acidosis. This is rough on your kidneys, and may account for why one out of every three people over the age of 65 in America has chronic kidney disease.
However, not many people suffer extreme kidney disease requiring renal dialysis – because they’re much more likely to first die of heart disease.
And, it turns out, the large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat in the blood which are associated with heart disease also damage your kidneys.
In other words, eating too many acid-producing meat and sugar foods lead to higher risk of cancer, kidney disease and heart disease.
Going along with that, most people eat too little of the fruits and vegetables that lead to lower pH (alkaline) in your tissues. Alkalinity may help prevent or slow progression of cancer. Plant proteins do not damage kidney tissues. And do not clog your arteries with cholesterol and saturated fat.
Let’s take this back to the fungi that apparently play a role in pancreatic cancer.
They migrate from your gut. Your gut contains trillions of bacteria and fungi. The beneficial ones love to eat fiber – which is found only in “alkaline” plant foods and not in “acidic” meat and sugar.
Should You Take Baking Soda?
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) turns acid more alkaline.
Therefore, some scientists and doctors have suggested its use for kidney patients, to reduce the damage caused by their high acidic diets.
(Which is weird, considering Dr. Simoncini was labeled a quack for telling cancer patients to take it.)
Whether your tissues are slightly alkaline or slightly acidic does seem to be a factor in pancreatic cancer – and maybe esophageal and colorectal cancers, according to the New York Times. It also affects your kidney health.
However, I can’t recommend baking soda.
First of all, it goes first to your stomach – which you need to be highly acidic to digest your food.
There’s not much evidence it gets into the tissues of your body where it might change the tissue’s acidic pH to alkaline.
When you take too much, it induces vomiting and diarrhea.
The sodium in sodium bicarbonate promotes high blood pressure much like the sodium in salt (sodium chloride). Higher blood pressure is exactly what weak kidneys and hearts do NOT need.
What Can You Do to Go From Acid to Alkaline?
Eat much more fruits and veggies.
Eat much less meat and sugar.
Lower cholesterol and saturated fat in your blood will also lower your risk of developing heart disease and sustaining kidney damage.
More fiber will feed your gut bacteria and, possibly (more research needs to be done), reduce how much fungi migrates to your pancreas.
And it may lower your risk of cancer – though, again, lots more research needs to be done.