Most of us know that familiar orange box of baking soda.
We use it for baking, but also to banish odors, lessen heartburn, soothe minor burns and remove stains, among other useful things.
But now University of Arizona researchers are developing a method for using the centuries-old remedy to keep breast cancer tumors from spreading.
Mark Pagel, associate professor of biomedical engineering, has been given a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, as well as private support from local cancer foundations, to research the effectiveness of baking soda cancer therapy.
"There is outstanding evidence that baking soda treatments reduce tumor growth and eliminate metastases, but the evidence is limited to mice," Pagel told AARP.
Pagel and a team of researchers at the university's cancer center are developing a way to measure the acidity level of tumors using MRI technology before cancer treatment begins. Tumors produce acid when they are growing, which destroys the surrounding tissue, allowing the tumor to spread.
By measuring the amount of acidity in the tumor, patients could be given a specially formulated baking soda solution to drink that researchers believe would counteract the specific acidity of their tumors.
Because humans are more sensitive to baking soda -- long-term use can lead to kidney and bladder damage -- Pagel and his colleagues "want to ensure that a patient is using the right dose amount and timing so that the tumor is affected by the baking soda, without also affecting normal tissue," he explains.
Knowing the acidity level of a tumor could also help predict which chemotherapy will work best for a patient, Pagel says. He calls it a way to "personalize medicine" so that treatment is optimized for each individual.
The study is being conducted in collaboration with Ian Robey, assistant professor of research, who has been studying the effect of baking soda on tumors in mice.
Although the idea of common baking soda as a cancer-fighter is appealing, Pagel warns that it's not quite that simple and there are health dangers in drinking too much baking soda. This is not something to do without checking with your doctor.
In other health news:
Evidence of banned antibiotics, other drugs in chicken feed. A joint investigation by public health researchers from two universities has found evidence that previously banned antibiotics are still being used in feed for chickens. The drugs, banned by the FDA in 2005, were found in 8 of 12 samples of ground feather meal, a common additive given to chicken and other animals. Researchers also found residues of caffeine, Tylenol, Benadryl and Prozac in the feed, reports Food Safety News.
Dirty dentures? Dangerous MRSA bacteria might be lurking. Bad news for the estimated 20 million Americans who wear full or partial dentures: There's a good chance your choppers are covered with sticky bacteria known as biofilm, and some of those germs may be the drug-resistant MRSA, that could cause lung infections, msnbc.com reports.
False alarms in mammograms may not be so false. A large new study suggests that "false alarms" in breast cancer screenings indicate an increased risk for cancer later on. A Danish study of more than 58,000 women ages 50 to 69 found those who had false positive mammograms -- meaning the results suggested a cancerous tumor when there was none -- had a 67 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer later in life compared with women who had negative mammograms.
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