Can manuka honey cure cancer?
The benefits of honey, and manuka honey in particular, have been a hot topic recently, which is expected due to the growing trend of natural remedies and treatments.
It is true that honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, but will it really have any positive effect on something as harmful as cancer?
Well… The answer is maybe. I can give you a straightforward yes or no answer, because it is more complicated than that as I will explain.
Cancer can be acquired or inherited. Of course there is not much you can do if you have inherited cancer from your parents, but the majority of cancer out there is actually acquired from living unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking too much which causes lung cancer… Everyone is very aware of this nowadays.
According to the Journal of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine, tabacco is the cause of 1/3 of cancer, poor diets account for another 1/3, and 1/5 is due to infections such as by viruses and bacteria. These are all aquired cancers.
There are several different ways that honey can benefit your body and potentially be an effective treatment against cancer.
#1 – Antibacterial
Some cancers are actually the result of bacterial infections and since honey is a natural antibacterial, it makes perfect sense that it could be effective at preventing or even treating cancer.
There is definitely more research that needs to be done in this area, but there are many different forms of cancers linked to certain bacterial infections. For example H. pylori infections are associated with stomach cancer and chlamydia infections are associated with cervical tumors, just to name a couple.
The reason that honey has been found to be quite ineffective antibacterial likely has to do with its activity, and how it attacks in a variety of different ways, which is the reason bacterias haven’t become resistant to it. It is common for bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, as we see all the time, but we have not seen such resistance with honey.
Manuka honey has also been shown to be anti-fungal, which who knows… might be considered another cause of cancer in the future.
#2 – Antioxidant
Oxidative stress is a known cause of cancer. When your body is under oxidative stress this basically means that there is an imbalance in the amount of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are oxygen containing molecules where the oxygen has an uneven number of electrons, making it unstable.
Free radicals are known to cause many problems, ranging everywhere from early aging to, of course, cancer.
The phytochemicals in honey have high amounts of antioxidant activity. This comes from its phenolic and flavonoid content. According to a research project studying the biological activity of honey, higher phenolics concentrations are associated with more antioxidants and is the darker honeys, such as manuka honey, that have these higher phenolics concentrations.
There is more than one study out there showing that manuka honey is it ineffective antioxidant. In one such study it was shown to reduce DNA damage coming from free radicals, which of course goes right along with what I am saying.
#3 – Prevent Proliferation
Flavonoids, one of the phytochemicals that honey contains, has been shown to prevent proliferation of cells. What this means is that it slows down the spread of mutant cancer cells. If you can stop cancer cell proliferation then you can stop cancer. Now this isn’t going to stop dead in its tracks by any means, but it has been shown to have anti-proliferation properties.
This along with the fact that is in antioxidant and an anti-bacterial code make honey a potential “natural vaccine” for cancer. And of course manuka honey would be one of the better honeys to take due to its increased antioxidant potential.
It all sounds great up until now, but there is a big downside. The downside is that sugar has been linked to cancer. There are plenty of studies showing this and based on scientific findings there are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it… Too much sugar can cause cancer.
Why does this matter? Well… Because honey is very high in sugar, which I am pretty sure you are very well aware of. It’s high sugar content is what gives it that nice sweet taste that we all love.
There was a very interesting study that I came across which showed a massive increase in cancer development when on a sugar enriched diet. Now the study was performed on rats, but it still is worth mentioning. During the study they were two groups of rats, one fed a starch diet in the other fed a sugar enriched diet. Now I’m not going to get into all the details, but the results were that 30% of the starch diet test subjects developed breast cancer whereas 50 to 58% of the sugar enriched diet test subjects developed cancer… A massive difference.
The cancer treating outlook of manuka honey looks promising, and there are many researchers very excited about the limited findings up until this point, but whether or not this is a very good natural treatment is still open too much debate.
We know that honey in general does possess certain qualities that you would want to look for in a natural anticancer treatment. The big question is whether or not it will do more harm than good, as talked about above.
If anything, I think it might be found to be a somewhat effective treatment for newly forming cancers, or a preventative, but it does not seem likely that it would be very effective at treating or even curing well-established cancers.
The bottom line here is that there simply is not enough research done on this topic to make a solid conclusion yet.
Questions or comments? Please leave them down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can 🙂 Also let me know what you think about manuka honey and this potential to treat cancer.
Kyle is an avid health enthusiast that believes in nature as a cure-all. When he's not drinking spirulina smoothies or dealing with the horrible aftertaste of stevia, he is probably working out, researching healthy herbs, or dealing with hand cramps he gets from writing articles like this.