I’ve written before here about the many people who are convinced that most (or all) diseases have to do with the body’s pH – most often, you hear that your body has to be alkaline, and that cancer and other diseases are associated with acidity. To save time, I will stipulate that this is bullshit. The pH of blood is 7.4, and there are numerous systems that try to keep it there, along with a great deal of evidence about the trouble that awaits if that number goes too far in either direction. Various compartments of the body (and indeed, of individual cells) are similarly kept at different pH levels. Being able to have different hydrogen ion concentrations (pH values) on different sides of a membrane seems to be a fundamental requirement for life as we know it.
So anyone who goes around saying that you have to make your body alkaline is (at the very least) oversimplifying a great deal. But that’s being too charitable. The people who say such things also tend to say a lot of other stuff that’s even more demonstrably false – such as lemons being alkaline – and demonstrate, with relentless vigor, that they know nothing about pH, about biochemistry, and about medicine. I have yet to come across an “Adjust your body pH!” advocate who seemed to grasp any actual details about any of these subjects. I’ll revise my views if I ever encounter one, but so far, I have a good deal of evidence for the propositions that the viewpoint itself is bullshit (as stated above) and that furthermore, the people advocating it are ignorant at best and. . .well, let’s take a look at them at their worst.
That would be this story. I should warn you that it’s not easy reading. It’s about Naima Houder-Mohammed, a British army officer who found herself with a diagnosis of untreatable breast cancer. Desperate – as who wouldn’t be – she turned to a someone named Robert O. Young, who is a big booster of the alkaline-pH idea and who runs a “clinic” near San Diego.In case you feel remotely like giving time to his views, Young also believes that viruses, bacteria, and fungi are all the same organism, just at different pH levels. He says that almonds are “high in oxygen”, and he says that lipids in the human body are there to “bind the acidity”. Young – no, not “Dr.” Young, since his “degrees” are from diploma mills -says a great deal of stuff. He has been in operation for many years, but has recently been having some legal troubles, which to me appear to be richly deserved.
I have the word “clinic” in quotes because, on the basis of what I’ve read, said facility is devoted more to extracting cash from dying people, while giving them injections of sodium bicarbonate. No, that’s what he does. That BBC link reproduces some of the emails he exchanged with the late Cpt. Houder-Mohammed, in which he assures her that he can help her, and wants assurances from her in turn that funds have been deposited before she arrives in San Diego. Family and friends contributed ($77,000) to sending her – yes, she flew halfway around the world in order for a quack to inject her with baking soda, which is just sad and infuriating. She lasted three months before flying back to the UK to die.
In the article, Young is picturing smiling, and told the BBC that he feels no remorse, because of all the people he has helped. That’s his opinion; here’s mine: It is my fervent hope that he is convicted of the crimes of which he has been accused, and that he is put away before he can commit any more. Looking at him, looking at someone who spends his time giving useless treatments to desperate cancer patients and taking their money while they die in front of him, tells me (once again) that I don’t really understand what human beings are capable of.
One last point. I know that there’s a lot of talk these days about loosening up the drug approval process and clinical trials in general. (I haven’t covered this in detail so far, because I honestly cannot and will not chase every shiny object the new administration throws around – I’ll wait until something actually happens). But to the people advocating some of these ideas, I would ask you to consider that man may indeed be a wolf to man (homo homini lupus), and that any such changes take that into account. You may well want to unleash beneficial innovation, but be careful that you don’t enable a thousand more Robert Youngs.