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Bee propolis found to be effective at slowing the spread of colon cancer, study finds

Propolis, or bee glue, is a mixture that honey bees produce by combining saliva and beeswax with substances gathered from tree buds, flowers, and other botanical sources. Honey bees use it to seal unwanted gaps in their beehive. History has revealed propolis being used by the Greeks to treat abscesses, while Assyrians used it to fight off infection and boost the healing process. Even the Egyptians used it to embalm – or prevent the decay of – mummies. Researchers found that caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), an active component of honey bee propolis may have other medical uses. It has been discovered to have antimitogenic and anticancer properties. Researchers tested out CAPE on colon cancer cells, and found that it prevented metastasis (spread of cancer) by inhibiting levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-2 and MMP-9).

However, propolis is not the same across beehives around the world. Propolis from Europe won’t have the same chemical components as propolis from Brazil, which makes it more difficult for scientists to come to a conclusion about its health benefits. CAPE, which is derived from bee propolis, is most beneficial if it comes from honey bees of American and European countries. It contains a variety of flavonoids, esters of phenolic acids, terpenoids, and many amino acids. Aside from its antimitogenic and anticancer properties, it also has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties, which makes for a natural source of medication.

Colorectal cancer is the carcinoma of colonic mucosal lining, and is ranked the third highest occurring cancer globally. It occurs after a series of mutation of genes: Polyps, which naturally form in the lining of the gut, sometimes become rogue, turning into cancer. Adenomatous polyps don’t cause death directly, but metastasis (causing cancer to other parts of the body) does. Current technologies in medicine have devised treatments for different types of cancer, but unfortunately, produce negative side effects. Researchers all over the world are trying to find alternate anticancer treatments, and bee propolis may be one of the stepping stones towards a more wholesome cancer medication, exhibiting an anticancer property without the chemical side effects. (Related: High colon cancer risk caused by Western junk food can be reversed with healthy, high-fiber diets, study proves.)

Fast facts on colorectal cancer

  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the U.S.; 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths can be prevented with screening. However, around 23 million people have not been screened for colorectal cancer.
  • One out of 20 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
  • Twenty-five percent of all people diagnosed with colorectal cancer come from families with a known history of it.

For more research on preventing cancer, explore

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