Anti-breast cancer potential of honey: A narrative review Review article

Main Article Content

Mohammad Sadegh Qadirifard
Amirhossein Fathabadi
Hamed Hajishah
Kosar Gholami
Mohammadmehdi Abbasi
Nafiseh Sami
Mostafa Mahmoudi Zo
Fateme Kadkhodaei
Mahla Sina
Arina Ansari
Zahra Rahimi
Niloofar Deravi


Cancer is responsible for the death of millions of people all around the world. Among the large group of cancers, the prevalence of breast cancer is highest in women. Therapeutic interventions, including removal surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy which is largely used, may cause adverse effects on the quality of patients’ life. This fact has encouraged researchers to find natural substances such as honey to overcome harmful effects. Nowadays, honey is recommended for plenty of abnormalities because of its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Various studies have been conducted to explore the anticancer benefits of different types of honey from different origins. In this review, we are going to summarize in-vitro, animal, and human studies on the anti-breast cancer potential of honey.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

How to Cite
Qadirifard MS, Fathabadi A, Hajishah H, Gholami K, Abbasi M, Sami N, Zo MM, Kadkhodaei F, Sina M, Ansari A, Rahimi Z, Deravi N. Anti-breast cancer potential of honey: A narrative review. OncoReview [Internet]. 2022Mar.31 [cited 2023Jun.5];12(1(45):5-15. Available from:


1. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2019. CA Cancer J Clin. 2019; 69(1): 7-34.
2. Yaacob NS, Nengsih A, Norazmi MN. Tualang Honey Promotes Apoptotic Cell Death Induced by Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer Cell Lines. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 989841.
3. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer Statistics, 2017. CA Cancer J Clin. 2017; 67(1): 7-30.
4. Prihantono P, Sampepajung D, Syamsu S et al. Effectiveness of Dorsata Honey Suplement on Interleukin‑3 Levels in Breast Cancer Patients Who Underwent Chemotherapy. Indian J Public Health Res Dev. 2020; 11: 457-62.
5. Sankaranarayanan K. Estimation of the Genetic Risks of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation in Humans: Current Status and Emerging Perspectives. J Radiat Res (Tokyo). 2006; 47(Suppl_B): B57-B66.
6. Karbownik M, Reiter RJ. Antioxidative effects of melatonin in protection against cellular damage caused by ionizing radiation. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000; 225(1): 9-22.
7. Ball DW. The Chemical Composition of Honey. J Chem Educ. 2007; 84(10): 1643.
8. Gheldof N, Wang X-H, Engeseth NJ. Identification and Quantification of Antioxidant Components of Honeys from Various Floral Sources. J Agric Food Chem. 2002; 50(21): 5870-7.
9. Cooper RA, Molan PC, Krishnamoorthy L et al. Manuka honey used to heal a recalcitrant surgical wound. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2001; 20(10): 758-9.
10. Sherlock O, Dolan A, Athman R et al. Comparison of the antimicrobial activity of Ulmo honey from Chile and Manuka honey against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010; 10: 47.
11. Al-Mamary M, Al-Meeri A, Al-Habori M. Antioxidant activities and total phenolic of different types of honey. Nutrition Research – NUTR RES. 2002; 22: 1041-7.
12. Alzahrani HA, Boukraa L, Bellik Y et al. Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of three varieties of honey from different botanical and geographical origins. Glob J Health Sci. 2012; 4(6): 191-6.
13. Valko M, Leibfritz D, Moncol J et al. Free radicals and antioxidants in normal physiological functions and human disease. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2007; 39(1): 44-84.
14. Jaganathan SK, Mandal M. Antiproliferative Effects of Honey and of Its Polyphenols: A Review. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2009, 830616.
15. Jaganathan SK, Mandal M. Involvement of non-protein thiols, mitochondrial dysfunction, reactive oxygen species and p53 in honey-induced apoptosis. Invest New Drugs. 2010; 28(5): 624-33.
16. Aryappalli P, Al-Qubaisi SS, Attoub S et al. The IL-6/STAT 3 signaling pathway is an early target of manuka honey-induced suppression of human breast cancer cells. Front Oncol. 2017; 7: 167.
17. Portokalakis I, Yusof HM, Ghanotakis D et al. Manuka honey-induced cytotoxicity against MCF7 breast cancer cells is correlated to total phenol content and antioxidant power. J Adv Biol Biotechnol. 2016: 1-10.
18. Wong LY , Nigam PS, Owusu-Apenten R. Effect of Iron and Hydrogen Peroxide Supplementation on the Total Phenols Content and Cytoxicity of Honey for MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells. J Adv Biol Biotechnol. 2018: 1-10.
19. Knüpfer H, Preiß R. Significance of interleukin-6 (IL-6) in breast cancer (review). Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007; 102(2): 129-35.
20. Naugler WE, Karin M. The wolf in sheep’s clothing: the role of interleukin-6 in immunity, inflammation and cancer. Trends Mol Med. 2008; 14(3): 109-19.
21. Aryappalli P, Shabbiri K, Masad RJ et al. Inhibition of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT 3 in human breast and lung cancer cells by manuka honey is mediated by selective antagonism of the IL-6 receptor. Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(18): 4340.
22. Al Qubaisi SS. Molecular targets of Manuka honey in human breast cancer. Scholarworks@UAEU . 2015; 2-12
23. Fauzi AN, Norazmi MN, Yaacob NS. Tualang honey induces apoptosis and disrupts the mitochondrial membrane potential of human breast and cervical cancer cell lines. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011; 49(4): 871-8.
24. Fauzi AN, Yaacob NS. Cell cycle and apoptosis pathway modulation by Tualang honey in ER-dependent and independent breast cancer cell lines. J Apic Res. 2016; 55(5): 366-74.
25. Badria F, Fathy H, Fatehe A et al. Evaluate the cytotoxic activity of honey, propolis, and bee venom from different localities in Egypt against liver, breast, and colorectal cancer. J Apither. 2017; 2(1): 1-4.
26. Almeer R, Alqarni A, Alqattan S et al. Effect of Honey in Improving Breast Cancer Treatment and Gene Expression Modulation of MMPs and TIMPs in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells. Pak J Zool. 2018; 50(6): 2000-2007.
27. Seyhan MF, Timirci-Kahraman Ö, Kısakesen Hİ et al. Turkish Honey Is Not Only Sweet, Yet Also Anti carcinogenic: Prominent Effects of Nonfloral Honey with Respect to Floral Honey on Breast Cancer Cell Lines. IVEK 2nd International Convention of Pharmaceuticals and Pharmacies. November 2015.
28. Seyhan MF, Yılmaz E, Timirci‐Kahraman Ö et al. Anatolian honey is not only sweet but can also protect from breast cancer: Elixir for women from Artemis to present. IUBMB Life. 2017; 69(9): 677-88.
29. Celebioglu HU. Probiotic bacteria grown with chestnut honey enhance in vitro cytotoxicity on breast and colon cancer cells. Arch Biol Sci. 2020; (00): 27-27.
30. Tsiapara AV , Jaakkola M, Chinou I et al. Bioactivity of Greek honey extracts on breast cancer (MCF-7), prostate cancer (PC-3) and endometrial cancer (Ishikawa) cells: Profile analysis of extracts. Food Chemistry. 2009; 116(3): 702-8.
31. Alhamdi H, Cytotoxic Activities of Plant Extracts (Lemon Balm, Wormwood, Costus, and Guava) and Honey against Breast, Lung and Colon Cancer Cell Lines. 2014, Tennessee State University.
32. Ahmed S, Othman NH. The anti-cancer effects of Tualang honey in modulating breast carcinogenesis: an experimental animal study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017; 17(1): 208.
33. Ahmed S, Sulaiman SA, Othman NH. Oral administration of tualang and Manuka honeys modulates breast cancer progression in Sprague-Dawley rats model. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 207
34. A hmed S. The Mechanism of Anticarcinogenic Effects of Tualang Honey (TH) on Induced Breast Cancer in Rats. 2015, Universiti Sains Malaysia.
35. Banik U, Ahamed S, Latt SS et al. Pattern of Histopathological Alterations in N-methyl-NNitrosourea (MNU) Induced Breast Cancer in Female Sprague Dawley (SD) Rats Treated with Crude Honey. Pertanika J Sci Technol. 2020; 28(4).
36. Takruri HR, Shomaf MS, Shnaigat SF. Multi floral honey has a protective effect against mammary cancer induced by 7, 12-Dimethylbenz (a) anthracene in sprague dawley rats. J Agric Sci. 2017; 9(2): 196.
37. Kadir EA, Sulaiman SA, Yahya NK et al. Inhibitory effects of tualang honey on experimental breast cancer in rats: a preliminary study. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013; 14(4): 2249-54.
38. Hizan NS, Hassan NHM et al. Tualang honey adjunct with anastrozole improve parenchyma enhancement of breast tissue in breast cancer patients: A randomized controlled trial. Integr Med Res. 2018; 7(4): 322-7.
39. Al-Waili NS. Effects of daily consumption of honey solution on hematological indices and blood levels of minerals and enzymes in normal individuals. J Med Food. 2003; 6(2): 135-40.
40. Zakaria Z, Zainal Abidin ZF, Gan SH et al. Effects of honey supplementation on safety profiles among postmenopausal breast cancer patients. J Taibah Univ Med Sci. 2018; 13(6): 535-40.
41. Irwan I, Azamris A, Bachtiar H. Perbandingan Prognosis Subtipe Molekuler Kanker Payudara Antara Pasien Kanker Payudara Wanita Usia Muda dan Tua di RSUP DR. M. DJAMIL PA DANG. Majalah Kedokteran Andalas. 2016; 38(3): 208-17.
42. Kurniawan A, Sampepajung D, Syamsu SA et al. Effectiveness of Dorsata Honey Suplement on Interleukin-3 Levels in Breast Cancer Patients Who Underwent Chemotherapy. Indian J Public Health Res Dev. 2020; 11(1): 947-52.
43. Munstedt K, Voss B, Kullmer U et al. Bee pollen and honey for the alleviation of hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients. Mol Clin Oncol. 2015; 3(4): 869-74.
44. Aghamohammadi D, Fakhari S, Bilehjani E et al. The effects of honey and cinnamon mixture on improving the quality of life in breast cancer. Crescent J Med Biol Sci. 2017; 4(2): 74-9.
45. Bhanot A, Sharma R, Noolvi MN. Natural sources as potential anti-cancer agents: A review. Int J Phytomedicine. 2011; 3(1): 9-26.
46. Karabagias IK, Dimitriou E, Kontakos S et al. Phenolic profile, colour intensity, and radical scavenging activity of Greek unifloral honeys. Eur Food Res Technol. 2016; 242(8): 1201-10.
47. Kishore RK, Halim AS, Syazana MN et al. Tualang honey has higher phenolic content and greater radical scavenging activity compared with other honey sources. Nutr Res. 2011; 31(4): 322-5.
48. Mohamed M, Sirajudeen K, Swamy M et al. Studies on the antioxidant properties of Tualang honey of Malaysia. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2010; 7(1).
49. Tan HT, Rahman RA, Gan SH et al. The antibacterial properties of Malaysian tualang honey against wound and enteric microorganisms in comparison to manuka honey. BMC Complement. Altern Med. 2009; 9(1): 34.
50. Moolenaar M, Poorter RL, van der Toorn PP et al. The effect of honey compared to conventional treatment on healing of radiotherapy-induced skin toxicity in breast cancer patients. Acta Oncol. 2006; 45(5)6: 623-4.

Most read articles by the same author(s)