Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a common household item that has gained popularity as an alternative cancer treatment. Some have speculated that alkali therapy neutralizes the extracellular acidity of tumor cells that promotes metastases. Internet blogs have touted alkali as a safe and natural alternative to chemotherapy that targets cancer cells without systemic effects. Sodium bicarbonate overdose is uncommon, with few reports of toxic effects in humans. The case described here is the first reported case of severe metabolic alkalosis related to topical use of sodium bicarbonate as a treatment for cancer. This case highlights how a seemingly benign and readily available product can have potentially lethal consequences.
©2017 American Association of Critical-Care Nurses