Bladder Cancer, Alkalinity & Secondary Issues/Considerations - November 6, 2013

See below for some February, 2014, Updates in blue text!

Yes, it has been a while since the last post!  It is truly amazing how quickly the time has passed.  The good news is that I have been busy living life, exploring the world, looking forward to some sort of working retirement (the only type available to US citizens these days), and planning the future.  Over the past months many have contacted me to report clean bills of health in bladder cancer screening procedures, generally cystoscopies, and the results are summarized in the sidebar to the left.  Others have reported complications or ancillary issues, and those are the topics for today's post. 

First of all we have John B. in Minnestota reporting that his last PSA jumped from 0.5 to 6.1.  Anything over 4.0 is considered high.  Further investigations discovered a lump in his prostate, and biopsies (13 samples) of this lump proved to be negative - ALL CLEAR.  Turns out the lump and elevated PSA are something called  Granulomatous Prostatitis, and may have been caused by the BCG treatments.  John tells me that the doctors expect the lump to dissolve and go away on its own.  He will have a prostate inspection on December 4 to see how things are progressing.  John is interested to hear if there are any others who have had this experience.  Please add a comment below if you have had this, or know somebody who has.

I also got a note from Geraldine, an Irish woman living in Britain.  She suspects that Irish ancestry may imply increased risk of bladder and other cancers.  Not sure if there is a correlation.  I suspect diet has more to do with it than genetics.  Any thoughts or observations from out there?

I also need to report on body acidity, alkalinity, and diet.  First a few words about body pH.  There is not actually such a measure.  Doctors routinely monitor blood pH, which the body regulates using its natural buffering system to within a very narrow range in healthy people, between 7.35 and 7.45 - slightly alkaline.  (Neutral is 7.0 with values lower being acidic and higher being alkaline.)  Arterial (oxygen-rich) blood tends to range higher (7.41) while venous blood tends more toward 7.36.  For this reason most physicians scoff at the idea of alkalinity therapy to control or prevent cancer, because the bloodstream is already slightly alkaline, and it will not go above 7.45 - unless something else is seriously wrong with you.  This line is reasoning is correct, as far as it goes.  What is overlooked is that the body is full of other fluids besides blood, and they are not as tightly buffered or regulated by natural systems.  Besides urine these include saliva, lymph, spinal fluid, interstitial fluid, bile, aqueous and vitreous humors (in your eyeballs), endolymph (in your inner ear), and most importantly, cytosol - the fluid within each cell.  The easiest one to measure pH on yourself is urine.

Measuring urine pH is also potentially very helpful.  Again, most doctors will scoff at the idea, because urine naturally ranges widely in pH.  As it should.  But one must consider the function of urine.  Its purpose is for elimination.  Elimination  of things your body doesn't need, extracted from the bloodstream by the kidneys.  While urine is mostly water, it can contain quite a few other things - over 3000 other things.  The curious can find the entire list here: Urine Metabolome  These things range from biological trash (broken cell pieces, enzymes, proteins, etc.) to salts, drugs, and environmental toxins.  While all of this may be intellectually stimulating, what's the point?  Simply this.  If you have too much of something present nearly anywhere in the body, it will ultimately show up in the urine.  So if your urine is usually acid, that means that, somewhere in your body (perhaps many places) are running too acidic.  This condition is common in most cancer patients.  By adjusting diet or other intake, one might be able to have the urine become neutral or alkaline, meaning that the alkalinity capacity of other areas of your body is maxed out - thus creating an environment that is toxic to cancer growth.  

Therefore I set out to measure my urine routinely and see how things were working.  I tested my urine pH level for (almost) every urination for about 40 days, attempting to isolate trends linking certain foods to pH response.  I used the test strips described in THIS POST last year.   Strictly speaking I did not collect enough data to substantiate any trends, but enough (perhaps) to indicate if any might be present. The most striking thing I noticed is that my urine pH is naturally acidic, in fact, VERY acidic - hovering between 6.0 and 6.5 most of the time.  The second was that diet has only a moderate effect on my urine pH, either up or down.  I noted some specific potential trends from some food, but decided not to pursue enough data to prove the connection.  It was pointless if one cannot take the body to alkalinity by diet alone, as seemed to be the case for me.  Nevertheless I will present them here for general education, keeping in mind the data are not conclusive:

Strongly Acidic Foods                     Mildly Acidic Foods
Red wine                                                   Chocolate (dark)

Strongly Alkaline Foods                  Mildly Alkaline Foods
Broccoli                                                      Athletic Greens powder

I also got some data (2.5 weeks) from Sebastian in Argentina, who found the same thing - diet does not appear to control urine pH very effectively, nor does exercise.  Some heuristic data from David F. in England also supports this thesis.

So if one cannot get to an alkaline state with diet alone, what works? Going back to the original recommendation from John M. in Ohio and Julie T. in Illinois, it's a combination of healthy diet plus a daily dose of baking soda - sodium bicarbonate.  You can see their stories in the post referenced above and HERE.   I tried 1 teaspoon dissolved in 5 oz of water, very salty!  More water makes it less salty, but less water can be done quickly - like medicine.  2014 Update: I have settled on 8-10 oz of water for a HEAPING kitchen-measure teaspoon (not a tablespoon nor a spoon from the flatware drawer). John and Julie take it just before bedtime, but I found mid-morning or mid-afternoon to be best for me.  While one can take it every day without too much trouble, my urine data suggested I did not need so much.  Yet from time to time every second day was not enough for me.  I tried testing once or twice each day and hitting myself with a dose of bicarbonate whenever dropping below neutral, but work/travel/life in general made this hard to execute at times.  For over a year I have experimented with bicarbonate schedules, and have yet to find one that works consistently.  Most recently I have been adding 1000mg of calcium carbonate (in the form of Tums antacids) every night before bed.  This regimen requires a shot of baking soda only once or twice a week.  2014 Update:  Electing to err on the side of caution, I am taking a heaping teaspoon mid-afternoon, on an empty stomach, almost every day (5-6 days per week), plus 2000-3000mg calcium carbonate nightly before bed.  My urine tests mildly acidic the day after any day I skip the bicarbonate. So that's where I am right now.  Sebastian finds that the bicarbonate works well for him, and his urine is more acidic than mine!  See the chart below from Sebastian:

I had the privilege to meet this fellow in person earlier this year, and he treated his my wife and me to an outstanding (and quite expensive) dinner out in Buenos Aires.  I am eager to return there some day soon.  Sebastian and I are pictured in THIS POST.  More details and photos can be found on this OTHER BLOG.