Is Honey a natural Cancer Vaccine?
Honey could be considered the most sustainable food produced naturally. It contains sugars, vitamins, minerals, and has high antioxidant activities. Cancer is on the rise in most countries. Carcinogenesis is a multi-step process and has multifactorial causes. Among these are low immune status, chronic infection, chronic inflammation, chronic non-healing ulcers, smoking, obesity, etc.
Published studies thus far have shown that honey improves immune status, has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, and promotes the healing of chronic ulcers and wounds, and scavenge toxic free radicals. Recently honey has been shown to have anti-cancer properties in cell cultures and in animal models.
The mechanisms suggested include induction of apoptosis, disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, and cell cycle arrest. Though sugar is predominant in honey which itself is thought to be carcinogenic, it is understandable that its beneficial effect as an anti-cancer agent raises skeptics. With an increasing number of people seeking therapy from nature, this area of research has recently gained attention.
So How Does Honey Help in Curing Cancer?
Honey is known for centuries for its medicinal and health-promoting properties. It contains various kinds of phytochemicals with high phenolic and flavonoid content which contribute to its high antioxidant activity. An agent that has strong antioxidant properties may have the potential to prevent the development of cancer as free radicals and oxidative stress play a significant role in inducing the formation of cancers. Phytochemicals available in honey could be narrowed down into phenolic acids and polyphenols. Variants of polyphenols in honey are reported to have anti-proliferative properties against several types of cancer.
Essentially, honey can stop cancer by:
- Naturally boosting the immune system
- Reducing Inflammation
- Fighting infection
- Healing ulcers and wounds
- Cause cancer cell death through apoptosis
In order to understand the usefulness of honey in cancer, we need to understand the various factors which could cause cancer. Carcinogenesis is a multi-step process and cancer has multi-factorial causes. The development of cancers takes place long after initiation, promotion, and progression steps have taken place. Cancer development could occur 10-15 years after exposure to the risk factors.
Causes of Cancer:
- Low immune status e.g. due to diabetes, chronic illness, obesity, and old age
- Chronic infections such as by bacteria helicobacter pylori (cancer of the stomach), viruses such as Human Papilloma Virus (cancer of the cervix, skin, and penis), Hepatitis viruses such as Hepatitis B, C, etc.
- Chronic inflammation, for example, colorectal cancer developing in patients with Crohn's colitis and ulcerative colitis.
- Chronic non-healing ulcers, for example, squamous cell carcinoma developing in patients with chronic traumatic ulcers of the skin.
- Accumulation of toxic free radicals and oxidative stress secondary to smoking, alcohol, obesity, and chronic inflammatory processes
- Genetic inheritance
Honey contains various kinds of phytochemicals with high phenolic and flavonoid content which contribute to its high antioxidant activity. An agent that has strong antioxidant properties may have the potential to prevent the development of cancer as free radicals and oxidative stress play a significant role in inducing the formation of cancers. Phytochemicals available in honey could be narrowed down into phenolic acids and polyphenols. Variants of polyphenols in honey are reported to have anti-proliferative properties against several types of cancer.
Patients who have a low immune system are at risk for cancer development. This explains why diabetics and HIV patients are more at risk to develop epithelial and non-epithelial cancers. Such individuals are also at risk to develop multiple chronic infections implying the multiplicity in cancer genesis. Aging is also associated with a reduced immune system. Many cancers are associated with aging. Improvement in immune status is key in the prevention of cancer formation and honey has such potential.
The chronic inflammatory process also has the risk of cancer development. Examples of cancers developing in patients suffering from chronic inflammatory processes include colorectal carcinomas developing in patients with Ulcerative Colitis and Chron's disease and thyroid cancers in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Honey is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, hence helping in its prevention and cure.
The Association of cancer to cigarette smoking is beyond doubt. It is due to generations of toxic free radicals and oxidative stress. Smoking is associated with a number of cancers such as larynx, bladder, breasts, esophagus, and cervix. Antioxidants, abundant in natural honey, are free-radical scavengers. Jungle honey was shown to have chemotactic induction for neutrophils and reactive oxygen species. The amino acid composition of honey is an indicator of the toxic radical scavenging capacity. Dark honey had higher phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity than clear honey.
There is now sizeable evidence that honey has a potential role in alleviating the causes of cancer thus a possible natural cancer vaccine. It is a natural immune booster, natural anti-inflammatory agent, natural anti-microbial agent, natural promoter for healing chronic ulcers and wounds, and scavengers for toxic free radicals. Improvement in immune status is key in the prevention of cancer formation and honey has such potential. This gives you one more reason to add that spoonful of honey to your water in the morning!