In simple terms, cancer is the abnormal growth of cells.

The uncontrolled growth of cells has the potential to spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer may invade any part of the body, and there are various types of cancers like lung cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma.

Over 100 types of cancers have been known until now, capable of affecting humans.

Cancer is currently responsible for the majority of deaths worldwide in the absence of a certain positive treatment.

Bee pollen exhibits a certain anti-cancer activity which has attracted the attention of various researchers for using it cancer management.

What is Bee Pollen?

Worker honeybees collect bee pollen. It is a combination of pollen and nectar from flowers.

The chemical composition of bee pollen varies depending upon the plant from which it has been extracted.

Mainly it is a rich source of sugars, vitamins and minerals, proteins and fatty acids. Bee pollen is known to have several health benefits.

Read: What is Bee Pollen?

Benefits of Bee Pollen For Cancer

Bee pollen is gaining popularity for use as a health supplement. It has also been found to be essential in cancer treatment due to anti-cancer properties it possesses.

Benefits of Bee Pollen For Cancer

1. It has anticancer properties

Various ongoing research studies have confirmed the potential of bee pollen as an anticancer treatment.

Researchers positively encourage the use of bee pollen and their extracts in formulating anti-cancer drugs.

A research study published in Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine in 2014 tested the effectivity of bee pollen extracts from four different bee species against human cancer cell lines.

The cytotoxic (toxic to cells) activity of bee pollen crude extracts was determined, and results of the study found that two out of four species exhibit cytotoxic activity and compounds that were tested, doxorubicin had the maximum cytotoxic activity.

All pure compounds were found to be effected against a particular cancer cell line.

The study concluded that bee pollen extracted from stingless bees, Trigonaincisa and Trigonafusco-balteata possesses antiproliferative activity effective against cancer cell lines in humans. [1]

Another study carried out by Kustaiwan et al. in 2015 reported that bee pollen extracted Trigona species against human cancer cell lines of different areas like liver, colon, gastric, lung and breast, showed moderate anticancer properties.

A compound called cardol was identified as a major bioactive compound, capable of inducing apoptosis of cancer cells.

The study revealed the use of cardol as a potential chemotherapy agent in treating cancer.[2]

Research carried out in Thailand examined pollen extracted from Apismelliferapropolis, a bee species found commonly in Thailand for anticancer activity.

Results of the study revealed that the extracts possess two novel compounds, cardanol and cardol that exhibit anticancer activity capable of being used in formulating anti-cancer drugs.[3]

What does this mean? Bee pollen possesses anticancer activity and essential compounds that have the potential to be used as agents in anti-cancer drugs and chemotherapy.

2. It anti-oxidant properties

An experimental study conducted by Nagai et al. in 2005 revealed that enzymatic hydrolysates extracted from bee bread (bee pollen coated with honey and secretions from bees) possess anti-oxidant properties.

The hydrolysates were found to have radical scavenging activity capable of acting against reactive oxygen species that induce oxidative stress.

The study concluded that enzymatic hydrolysates obtained from bee bread could be used for the treatment of cancer apart from an ingredient for health food. [4]

Another study published in International Immunopharmacology reported that bee pollen contained large amounts of polyphenols that act as strong antioxidants.

Pollen was tested against respiratory cancer cell lines and the study concluded that pollen extracts prevent respiratory burst (rapid release of free oxygen radicals by the abnormal cancer cells in the respiratory tract) in the cancer cell lines.

This property was mainly attributed to its antioxidative potential.[5]

A study published in Molecules in 2015 confirmed the anti-oxidative property of polyphenols present in bee pollen, associating it with its chemical structure.[6]

What does this mean? The anti-oxidative activity of bee pollen prevents the release of large amounts of free oxygen radicals. It has radical scavenging property that prevents oxidative stress induced by cancerous cells. Bee pollen is enriched with polyphenols that are potent anti-oxidants.

3. It anti-inflammatory benefits

Inflammation is the body’s defense mechanism against infections and injuries. However, it needs to be under control. Inflammation for a long period if neglected can lead to cancer.

Bee pollen popularly available as a health supplement act as an anti-inflammatory agent that not only regulate inflammation but also relieve painful conditions.

A study published by O’Connell N et al. in 2005 reported that bee pollen acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and can be used as a painkiller.[7]

According to a study published in Molecules in 2015 reported that bee pollen contains phenolic acids and flavonoids that contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.[8]

Researchers claim that bee pollen inhibits the activity of enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase that are responsible for inflammation in the tissues.[9]

What does this mean? Bee pollen can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent to prevent cancer development and also as a pain killer to reduce pain associated with inflammation or chemotherapy radiations in cancer therapy.

4. It stimulates the immune system

Bee pollen can be used as an immunostimulant to enhance the activity of the immune system and fight against easily acquired infections.

According to a study in Carbohydrate Polymers in 2009, bee pollen extracts stimulate the immune system by activating natural killer cells, phagocytic macrophages, and proliferation of lymphocytes.[10]

A study published in Molecules in 2015 revealed that polysaccharides present in bee pollen help in improving the activity of the immune system.[11]

What does this mean? Cancer patients are often susceptible to infections acquired from the hospital. Bee pollen enhances immune system activity that can prevent immunocompromised cancer individuals from contracting infections easily.

5. It has anti-allergic activity

Cancer patients suffer from weak immunity after various cancer treatments making them susceptible to allergies and infections quickly.

Bee pollen is an anti-allergic agent.

Research studies have found that pollen from bees has a protective effect on mast cells capable of releasing of histamine.

In an experimental study, it was found to be effective in preventing allergic reactions on daily administration.[12]

An experimental study published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2008 determined effects of bee pollen extracts against allergies induced in mice.

The study found that phenolic extracts of bee pollen contain flavonoids that exhibit anti-allergic properties.[13]

What does this mean? Bee pollen has an anti-allergic property which is attributed to the presence of phenols and flavonoids in it. It can be consumed as an anti-allergic agent to prevent adverse allergic reactions that may occur due to consumption of various antibiotics and chemotherapy used in cancer management.

6. It has antimicrobial properties

Certain cancers are associated with bacteria and viruses.

Antimicrobial agents have antiproliferative and cytotoxic activity capable of being useful in cancer therapy and overcoming side effects like bacteremia (presence of bacteria in the blood) caused by chemotherapy.[14]

A study reported that bee pollen extracts have found to be effective against most gram-positive bacteria and thus can be used in the formulation of antibiotics against pathogenic bacteria infecting food products.

The antimicrobial activity of bee pollen is due to the presence of flavonoids and phenolic acids in pollen.[15]

According to a research paper published in Journal of environmental science and health in 2013, methanolic extracts of bee pollen were found to be effective against five different strains of bacteria, Staphylococcus enterica being the most sensitive to bee pollen.

Staphylococcus enterica is often associated with hospital-acquired infections. Bee pollen can prevent patients from acquiring such infections.[16]

What does this mean? Bee pollen contains flavonoids and phenolic acids that contribute to its antimicrobial properties. It is effective against various bacterial species mainly gram positive bacteria and prevents hospital-acquired infections.

Dosage

There is no specific dosage for cancer conditions. Patients may be prescribed the dose depending upon the extent of the disease.

Studies report 3-5 teaspoons of bee pollen for adults and 1-2 teaspoons for children.

The dosage is recommended three times before eating meals and for 1- months for positive results. In the case of cancers, the dosage is smaller due to the consumption of other medications.

Bee bread is stronger than bee pollen, and therefore its intake is recommended in smaller doses and for a shorter period.

The digestibility of pollen can be increased by mixing it with other products like butter, honey, cheese, yogurt, jams, and glucose.

If opting for mixed products, 1-3 teaspoons a day is recommended.[17]

Those consuming medications for chronic diseases like cancer must consult a doctor for an appropriate dosage for that particular condition.

Precautions

Bee pollen can be highly effective in treating cancer. Being a natural product, it is safe for use and has the least side effects associated with it.

However, certain general precautions may be considered.

Bee pollen allergies are very rare however sometimes it may cause allergic reactions presenting the need for medical emergencies. [18]

Hence, before opting for bee pollen supplements, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and chose supplements that have been thoroughly tested previously.

Individuals sensitive to allergies may develop immediate acute allergic reactions to consuming bee pollen products. Hence they must avoid consumption.[19]

Allergic reactions may include itching and swelling.

One must be aware of the potential side effects before incorporating bee pollen products in the daily diet.

Disclaimer: We strive to provide current and relevant information but drugs/supplements usually impact each individual differently. Thus, it is best to consult your doctor about the side effects, interactions with drugs, and the right dosage.

Conclusion

Thus, bee pollen has various health benefits that are useful not only as nutritional supplements but also for treating chronic conditions like cancer.

They have therapeutic properties capable of preventing side effects associated with chemotherapy and antibiotics used for cancer management.

The use of bee pollen for preventing cancerous cells from developing must be researched further.

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