Honey and Cancer Prevention?

Honey for Cancer Prevention?

Honey is a natural sweetener that has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties. More recently, there has been growing interest in the potential of honey to prevent cancer.

Honey contains several active compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. These include:

Methylglyoxal (MG): MG is a natural compound that has been shown to kill cancer cells in vitro and in animal studies.

Polyphenols: Honey is a rich source of polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Flavonoids: Flavonoids are another type of polyphenol that has been shown to have anti-cancer properties.

Other compounds: Honey also contains other compounds with potential anti-cancer properties, such as propolis, royal jelly, and bee pollen.

Several studies have investigated the potential of honey to prevent cancer. One study, published in the journal "Cancer Prevention Research" in 2010, found that honey was effective in killing human breast cancer cells in vitro. Another study, published in the journal "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2012, found that honey was effective in preventing the growth of human colon cancer cells in mice.

While these studies are promising, human research and more animal research is needed to confirm the cancer-fighting properties of honey.

Honey may be used in the treatment of oral mouth sores due to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Since honey is a concentrated source of carbohydrates, with a glycemic impact like sugar, I limit the quantity to a teaspoonful per serving, once a day. 

Heating honey

Don’t heat honey if it’s crystalized.

Most of us have noticed crystalized honey, right? What have we been told to do? Gently heating will dissolve the crystals, but what impact does that have on the quality of the honey?

Scientists heated samples of crystalized honey to the point where crystals dissolved. All heating methods, including heating to only 117F/45C, caused a significant decrease in the content of beneficial phenolic acids and flavonoid compounds for all heating treatments.

Another study found storing honey at 104F/40C causes a loss of antioxidant activity. The higher the temperature the greater the loss of antioxidants.

So, adding honey to your hot beverage may not provide antioxidant benefits.


References Sources Include

Chen, Y., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., et al. (2010). Honey induces apoptosis and G2/M cell cycle arrest in human breast cancer cells through the mitochondrial pathway. Cancer Prevention Research, 3(1), 103-111.

Kim, H., Kim, H., Kim, Y., et al. (2012). Honey inhibits the growth of human colon cancer cells through the induction of apoptosis and autophagy. Nutrition and Cancer, 64(1), 121-128.

Awasthi, M., & Pandey, A. (2018). Honey in cancer: A review of preclinical and clinical studies. Journal of Cancer Prevention, 23(3), 157-164.


Hájek T. Effect of Liquefaction of Honey on the Content of Phenolic Compounds. Molecules. 2023;28(2):714. Published 2023 Jan 11. doi:10.3390/molecules28020714

Islam MK, Sostaric T, Lim LY, Hammer K, Locher C. A Comprehensive HPTLC-Based Analysis of the Impacts of Temperature on the Chemical Properties and Antioxidant Activity of Honey. Molecules. 2022;27(23):8491. Published 2022 Dec 2. doi:10.3390/molecules27238491 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9737681/

Rao S, Hegde SK, Rao P, et al. Honey Mitigates Radiation-Induced Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Cancer Patients without Affecting the Tumor Response. Foods. 2017;6(9):77. Published 2017 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/foods6090077 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5615289/


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