Sodium Bicarbonate

Dr Simoncini, oncologist Rome Italy

  • Cancer & fungi cannot survive in an oxygenated and alkalized environment.

  • Oral intake of sodium bicarbonate offers an instant and powerful boost of blood pH into the alkaline.

  • One teaspoon can raise the pH to around ~7.4. Maintaining a pH of ~7.4 effectively neutralizes the ability of cancers to grow and reproduce. 


Cancer Res 2013 Mar 1;73(5):1524-35. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2796. Epub 2013 Jan 3.

Acidity generated by the tumor microenvironment drives local invasion.

Estrella V, Chen T, Lloyd M, Wojtkowiak J, Cornnell HH, Ibrahim-Hashim A, Bailey K, Balagurunathan Y, Rothberg JM, Sloane BF, Johnson J, Gatenby RA, Gillies RJ.


Departments of Cancer Imaging and Metabolism, Radiology, and Analytic Microscopy Laboratory, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


The pH of solid tumors is acidic due to increased fermentative metabolism and poor perfusion. It has been hypothesized that acid pH promotes local invasive growth and metastasis. The hypothesis that acid mediates invasion proposes that H(+) diffuses from the proximal tumor microenvironment into adjacent normal tissues where it causes tissue remodeling that permits local invasion. In the current work, tumor invasion and peritumoral pH were monitored over time using intravital microscopy. In every case, the peritumoral pH was acidic and heterogeneous and the regions of highest tumor invasion corresponded to areas of lowest pH. Tumor invasion did not occur into regions with normal or near-normal extracellular pH. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that cells in the invasive edges expressed the glucose transporter-1 and the sodium-hydrogen exchanger-1, both of which were associated with peritumoral acidosis.

In support of the functional importance of our findings, oral administration of sodium bicarbonate was sufficient to increase peritumoral pH and inhibit tumor growth and local invasion in a preclinical model, supporting the acid-mediated invasion hypothesis. Cancer Res; 73(5); 1524-35. ©2012 AACR.

Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:485196. doi: 10.1155/2013/485196. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Investigating mechanisms of alkalinization for reducing primary breast tumor invasion

Robey IF, Nesbit LA.


Arizona Respiratory Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.


The extracellular pH (pHe) of many solid tumors is acidic as a result of glycolytic metabolism and poor perfusion. Acidity promotes invasion and enhances metastatic potential. Tumor acidity can be buffered by systemic administration of an alkaline agent such as sodium bicarbonate.

Tumor-bearing mice maintained on sodium bicarbonate drinking water exhibit fewer metastases and survive longer than untreated controls. We predict this effect is due to inhibition of tumor invasion. Reducing tumor invasion should result in fewer circulating tumor cells (CTCs). We report that bicarbonate-treated MDA-MB-231 tumor-bearing mice exhibited significantly lower numbers of CTCs than untreated mice (P < 0.01). Tumor pHe buffering may reduce optimal conditions for enzymes involved in tumor invasion such as cathepsins and matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). To address this, we tested the effect of transient alkalinization on cathepsin and MMP activity using enzyme activatable fluorescence agents in mice bearing MDA-MB-231 mammary xenografts. Transient alkalinization significantly reduced the fluorescent signal of protease-specific activatable agents in vivo (P ≤ 0.003). Alkalinization, however, did not affect expression of carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX). The findings suggest a possible mechanism in a live model system for breast cancer where systemic alkalinization slows the rate of invasion.


BMC Cancer. 2011 Jun 10;11:235. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-11-235.

Bicarbonate and dichloroacetate: evaluating pH altering therapies in a mouse model for metastatic breast cancer

Robey IF, Martin NK.


Arizona Respiratory Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA.



The glycolytic nature of malignant tumors contributes to high levels of extracellular acidity in the tumor microenvironment. Tumor acidity is a driving force in invasion and metastases. Recently, it has been shown that buffering of extracellular acidity through systemic administration of oral bicarbonate can inhibit the spread of metastases in a mouse model for metastatic breast cancer. While these findings are compelling, recent assessments into the use of oral bicarbonate as a cancer intervention reveal limitations.


We posited that safety and efficacy of bicarbonate could be enhanced by dichloroacetate (DCA), a drug that selectively targets tumor cells and reduces extracellular acidity through inhibition of glycolysis. Using our mouse model for metastatic breast cancer (MDA-MB-231), we designed an interventional survival study where tumor bearing mice received bicarbonate, DCA, or DCA-bicarbonate (DB) therapies chronically.


Dichloroacetate alone or in combination with bicarbonate did not increase systemic alkalosis in mice. Survival was longest in mice administered bicarbonate-based therapies. Primary tumor re-occurrence after surgeries is associated with survival rates. Although DB therapy did not significantly enhance oral bicarbonate, we did observe reduced pulmonary lesion diameters in this cohort. The DCA monotherapy was not effective in reducing tumor size or metastases or improving survival time. We provide in vitro evidence to suggest this outcome may be a function of hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment.


DB combination therapy did not appear to enhance the effect of chronic oral bicarbonate. The anti-tumor effect of DCA may be dependent on the cancer model. Our studies suggest DCA efficacy is unpredictable as a cancer therapy and further studies are necessary to determine the role of this agent in the tumor microenvironment.


Med Hypotheses. 2013 Oct;81(4):664-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.07.023. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Expression and/or activity of the SVCT2 ascorbate transporter may be decreased in many aggressive cancers, suggesting potential utility for sodium bicarbonate and dehydroascorbic acid in cancer therapy

McCarty MF.


NutriGuard Research, 1051 Hermes Ave., Encinitas, CA 92024, United States. Electronic address:


  • Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimer transcription factor whose elevated activity in many cancers helps them to survive under hypoxic conditions and enhances their capacity to grow invasively, establish metastases, and survive chemo- or radiotherapy.


Optimal intracellular levels of ascorbate suppress the level and transcriptional activity of HIF-1under normoxic or mildly hypoxic conditions by supporting the activity of proly and asparagyl hydroxylases that target HIF-1alpha. High intracellular ascorbate can also work in various ways to down-regulate activation of NF-kappaB which, like HIF-1 is constitutively active in many cancers and promotes aggressive behavior - in part by promoting transcription of HIF-1alpha. Yet recent evidence suggests that, even in the context of adequate ascorbate nutrition, the intracellular ascorbate content of many aggressive cancers may be supoptimal for effective HIF-1 control. This likely reflects low expression or activity of the SVCT2 ascorbate transporter. The expression of SVCT2 in cancers has so far received little study; but the extracellular acidity characteristic of many tumors would be expected to reduce the activity of this transporter, which has a mildly alkaline pH optimum. Unfortunately, since SVCT2 has a high affinity for ascorbate, and its activity is nearly saturated at normal healthy serum levels of this vitamin, increased oral administration of ascorbate would be unlikely to have much impact on the intracellular ascorbate content of tumors. However, cancers in which HIF-1 is active express high levels of glucose transporters such as GLUT-1, and these transporters can promote influx of dehydroascorbic acid (DHA) via facilitated diffusion; once inside the cell, DHA is rapidly reduced to ascorbate, which effectively is "trapped" within the cell.

Hence, episodic intravenous infusions of modest doses of DHA may have potential for optimizing the intracellular ascorbate content of cancers, potentially rendering them less aggressive. Indeed, several published studies have concluded that parenteral DHA--sometimes in quite modest doses--can retard the growth of transplanted tumors in rodents.

As an alternative or adjunctive strategy, oral administration of sodium bicarbonate, by normalizing the extracellular pH of tumors, has the potential to boost the activity of SCTV2 in tumor cells, thereby promoting increased ascorbate uptake. Indeed, the utility of oral sodium bicarbonate for suppressing metastasis formation in nude mice xenografted with a human breast cancer has been reported. Hence, oral sodium bicarbonate and intravenous DHA may have the potential to blunt the aggressiveness of certain cancers in which suboptimal intracellular ascorbate levels contribute to elevated HIF-1 activity.

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