April 16, 2012

2 Min Read
Baking Soda May Enhance Breast Cancer Therapy

TUCSON, Ariz.The household staple baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, has been around for centuries and used for everything from cooking and odor elimination to medicinal purposes. Now, researchers at the University of Arizona are using a $2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to improve the way doctors measure the effectiveness of drinking baking soda to fight breast cancer.

The grant will be used to help refine a new magnetic resonance imaging method for measuring pH, or acid content, of a tumor that has been discovered in a patient but not yet treated. By measuring the acid content of the tumor, doctors would be able to monitor the effectiveness of personalized treatments such as baking soda on the tumor and other normal tissue, and even predict the effectiveness of chemotherapies before the patient starts the medication.

Drinking baking soda has been proven to reduce or eliminate the spread of breast cancer to the lungs, brain and bone, but too much baking soda also can damage normal organs, which is why it is important to monitor the treatment.

"In other words, this test is designed to lead to personalized medicine for cancer patients, by optimizing the therapy to each individual," said Mark "Marty" Pagel, PhD, UofA associate professor of biomedical engineering and lead researcher on the project.

Just as people feel the burn from lactic acid produced in their muscles during rigorous exercise, tumors also produce lactic acid when they are actively growing. The acid destroys surrounding tissue, which allows the tumor to grow, invade surrounding areas, and metastasize to other organs in the body. "The acid also provides resistance to common chemotherapies," Pagel said.

A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) showed a daily dose of baking soda improves nutrition and slows the decline of kidney function in some patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD).

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