The Latest Weapon in the War on Cancer: Honey Bees
November 24, 2012 | 19,233 views | + Add to Favorites
Propolis, the "caulk" honeybees use to patch holes in their hives, has been used as a natural remedy since ancient times, treating ills ranging from sore throats and burns to allergies.
New research has revealed another exciting use for this seemingly miraculous substance, this time in the fight against cancer.
Propolis Slows Tumor Growth
Propolis has a number of well-known therapeutic properties, including potent antioxidant and anti-microbial action, and healing, analgesic, anesthetic, and anti-inflammatory properties. In the hive, bees use it as a disinfectant against bacteria and viruses, helping to seal cracks and "embalm" invaders that are too large to carry out.
It's been used for thousands of years in folk medicine, but despite its plethora of active components, research on this compound, and therefore its modern medical uses, is limited.
Researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center, intrigued by propolis' anti-cancer potential, decided to look at one of its bioactive components, caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), and its impact on human prostate cancer cells.
In cells grown in a lab, even small doses of CAPE slowed the growth of tumor cells. And when low oral doses were given to mice with prostate tumors, tumor growth slowed by 50 percent! What's more, feeding CAPE to mice daily caused the tumors to stop growing, although they returned when the CAPE was removed from their diets.
This suggests the propolis compound works by impacting signaling networks that control cancerous cell growth, rather than by killing the cells directly. However, there are at least four studies on propolis' apoptotic properties, indicating that technically it is capable of directly killing cancer cells, including prostate cancer, melanoma and more, as well.1
This is not the first time propolis has shown promise in treating cancer. In 2009, propolis was found to suppress the growth of neurofibromatosis-associated tumors (tumors on nerve tissue) by blocking PAK1 signaling. Researchers noted:2
"Since more than 70% of human cancers such as breast and prostate cancers require the kinase PAK1 for their growth, it is quite possible that GPE [green propolis extract] could be potentially useful for the treatment of these cancers, as is Bio 30 [a CAPE-based propolis extract]."