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Can Tomatoes Kill Cancer?

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Test tube studies have shown that cancer cells cannot grow in a high alkaline environment, but do grow in excess acid. In order to understand what this means, we first need to understand the difference between alkaline and acid.

Remember those little strips of litmus paper in high school chemistry designed to teach us about pH? In technical terms, we were measuring the number of hydrogen ions in a given solution, whether it was orange juice or gasoline, to discover if it was alkaline or acid. Pure water is neither alkaline nor acidic. It is neutral and measures a 7.0, right in the middle of the zero to 14 pH scale. Solutions with less than a 7 pH are acidic, and those with a pH greater than 7 are alkaline. So, how can we use this information to reduce the risk of cancer growing and thriving in our bodies?

In recent years an alkaline diet theory has developed as a possible way of preventing or slowing the growth of cancer. Advocates of this diet believe that by eating foods with a high pH, which is alkaline—like tomatoes, spinach, cucumber and celery, among others—makes our body less hospitable to cancer cells. We do know that high fat, low fiber diets make us at higher risk for certain cancers, but can we alter our pH levels enough to prevent cancer?

Brigham & Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, says the alkaline diets do not work because our body carefully regulates our pH levels and does not alter those levels in a meaningful way, for a significant amount of time needed to kill cancer. In other words if our pH goes outside the normal healthy range of 7.35 to 7.45 our body automatically corrects itself to bring our pH levels back to normal. Another criticism of alkaline diets is they exclude many food groups which provide us with beneficial anti-cancer properties.

I am not a scientist so don’t change your diet based on what I’ve written, pro or con, but theoretically, the alkaline diet is an interesting concept to ponder. Unfortunately the big picture about diet and cancer is a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle that cannot be assembled in a test tube, much less in 500 words or less. So for now let’s keep reading and studying and eating the most balanced diet we can.