Propolis and Colon Cancer

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Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

Active heathy, hive box

Active heathy, hive box

Life is hard, sometimes

But hold on to hope

And look for help

From God’s creations.

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea


There are many studies found on the National Institutes of Health and GreenMedInfo websites regarding propolis and colon cancer.  The studies done in vitro (in a lab dish on cells) and on animals, show that propolis inhibits the growth of colon cancers sells in various ways.  Unfortunately, there are no clinical studies, as yet, on human beings, so this encouraging news is preliminary and needs further study.  Despite the limitations of the studies done so far, if I had cancer, I would certainly consider the use of propolis as an adjunct therapy  to whatever else was prescribed.

Here are summaries of some of the promising studies I have found.

“Chemoprevention of colon carcinogenesis by phenylethyl-3-methylcaffeate”, by Rao CV1, Desai D, Rivenson A, Simi B, Amin S, Reddy BS, states that previous studies have established that caffeic acid esters present in propolis, are potent inhibitors of human colon adenocarcinoma cell growth, carcinogen-induced biochemical changes, and preneoplastic lesions in the rat colon. The present study was designed to investigate the chemopreventive action of dietary phenylethyl-3-methylcaffeate (PEMC), from propolis,  on azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis,the colonic mucosa and tumor tissues in male rats. At 5 weeks of age, groups of rats were fed the control diet, or a diet containing 750 ppm of PEMC. At 7 weeks of age, all animals except those in the vehicle (normal saline)-treated groups were given 2 weekly  injections of azoxymethane (cancer inducing agent). All groups were maintained on their respective dietary regimen until the termination of the experiment 52 weeks after the carcinogen treatment.

The results indicate that dietary administration of PEMC (from propolis) significantly inhibited the incidence and multiplicity of invasive, noninvasive, and total (invasive plus noninvasive) adenocarcinomas of the colon. Dietary PEMC also suppressed the colon tumor volume by 43% compared to the control diet. Animals fed the PEMC diet showed inhibited formation of colonic tumors by 15-30%. The precise mechanism by which PEMC inhibits colon tumorigenesis remains to be discovered.   Find this study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7757981

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In a study from 2008,  titled,” Growth inhibitory activity of ethanol extracts of Chinese and Brazilian propolis in four human colon carcinoma cell lines”, by Ishihara M1, Naoi K, Hashita M, Itoh Y,  and Suzui M,  alcohol extracts of  Chinese and Brazillian propolis were tested on  four human colon carcinoma cell lines.  The findings indicate that the ethanol extracts of propolis contain components that may have anticancer activity.  Some cancers cells succumbed after only 72 hours of treatment.  Thus, propolis and related products may provide a novel approach to the chemoprevention and treatment of human colon carcinoma.  This study can be found at    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19578776.

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“The contribution of plukenetione A to the anti-tumoral activity of Cuban propolis, by Díaz-Carballo D1, Malak S, Bardenheuer W, Freistuehler M, Peter Reusch H, studied Cuban propolis as a source of possible anti-cancer agents. The study found an anti-metastatic effect in mice and considerable cytotoxicity in both wild-type and chemoresistant human tumor cell lines. Plukenetione A– a component identified for the first time in Cuban propolis–induced G0/G1 arrest and DNA fragmentation in colon carcinoma cells.  This study can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18951805.

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inside the hive

inside the hive

A study from 1995, called , “Caffeic acid phenethyl ester induces growth arrest and apoptosis of colon cancer cells via the beta-catenin/T-cell factor signaling”, by Xiang D1, Wang D, He Y, Xie J, Zhong Z, Li Z, Xie J, the effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (in propolis) on human colon cancer cells. Using two human sporadic colon cancer cell lines (HCT116 and SW480), they tested for cell growth inhibition, cell cycle and apoptosis induction.  Caffeic acid phenethyl ester completely inhibited growth, and induced G1 phase arrest and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in both HCT116 and SW480 cells.  Results of the study suggest that caffeic acid phenethyl ester merits further study as an agent against colorectal cancers.  The abstract of this study can be found at  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16926625.

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“Greek propolis exhibits antiproliferative effects against human colon cancer cells”, done in 2010, by Harris Pratsinis, Dimitris Kletsas, Eleni Melliou, and Ioanna Chinou, tested  diterpenes and flavonoids, from Greek propolis, for their activities against human malignant and normal cell strains. They were found to be the most active against HT-29 human colon adenocarcinoma cells, without affecting normal human cells.  this study is found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7757981.
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“Chilean propolis: antioxidant activity and antiproliferative action in human tumor cell lines” published in 2004 by Russo A1, Cardile V, Sanchez F, Troncoso N, Vanella A, Garbarino JA. tested Chilean propolis for its antiproliferative capacity on KB (human mouth epidermoid carcinoma cells), Caco-2 (colon adenocarcinoma cells) and DU-145 (androgen-insensitive prostate cancer cells) human tumor cell lines. Results showed that this Chilean propolis sample scavenged free radicals and inhibits tumor cell growth.  Find this study at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15556167.

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“Artepillin C in Brazilian propolis induces G(0)/G(1) arrest via stimulation of Cip1/p21 expression in human colon cancer cells”, from 2005, by Shimizu K1, Das SK, Hashimoto T, Sowa Y, Yoshida T, Sakai T, Matsuura Y, Kanazawa K. added Artepillin C (from propolis)  to human colon cancer cells. It dose-dependently inhibited cell growth.  Artepillin C appears to prevent colon cancer through the induction of cell-cycle arrest and to be a useful chemopreventing factor in colon carcinogenesis.

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“Cytotoxicity of portuguese propolis: the proximity of the in vitro doses for tumor and normal cell lines” from 2014, states that  in vitro and in vivo data suggest that propolis has anticancer properties.  The phenolic extracts from Portuguese propolis  was evaluated using human tumor cell lines  – -breast adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung carcinoma, colon carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma, and non-tumor primary cells. The studied propolis presented high cytotoxic potential for human tumor cell lines. Propolis phenolic extracts comprise phytochemicals that should be further studied for their bioactive properties against human colon carcinoma. In the other cases, the proximity of the in vitro cytotoxic doses for tumor and normal cell lines should be confirmed by in vivo tests.


Propolis and Cancer


Psalms from the Hive

by Jeannie Saum

God designed bees to make perfect hexagon cells,

Delicious honey and beeswax to spare.

But most amazing of all, the red-gold propolis goo

Healing from the hive for me and you!

Clover, Bee, and Revery

Reverie (revery) –(n.) state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing; a fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea


People are talking about propolis and cancer on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivor Network!  Cancer patients are using propolis and posting information about propolis and cancer fighting properties.  I decided to do some research to verify what is being said.

Propolis is a natural compound made by honeybees to coat the inside of their hives.  It is collected by the bees from plant buds and bark to disinfect and protect their beehive from disease, bacteria, viruses, and fungus. Its composition is approximately 55% resins and balms, 30% wax, 10% etheric oils, and 5% pollen. It contains over 180 compounds, many of which are biologically active. It contains almost all minerals, vitamins and amino acids needed by the body. Its great content of flavonoids, amongst others, is what makes it antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, antibiotic, and anesthetic.  It can be ground into powder and consumed with honey, or it can also be chewed with gum. It may be dissolved in alcohol or in natural glycerin to make a tincture.

Some of propolis’ ingredients have shown antioxidant and anti-tumor properties in early laboratory and animal studies,

  • A study published in 2008 by Biosci Biotechnol Biochem shows that propolis suppresses tumor angiogenesis by inducing apoptosis in tube-forming endothelial cells.  This means that propolis suppresses the growth of blood vessels by the cancer cells and causes cell death.  This study can be found at:

Examine Guide, GreenMedInfo Recommendedhttp://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/propolis-suppresses-angiogenesis

  • Another study published in 2008 showed Anticarcinogenic and antimitotic effects  of propolis on tissue cultures of bladder cancer.  This means it decreased the cell division of the cancer cells.  This study is found at:


  • A study from 2009 showed growth inhibitory activity of an alcohol tincture of propolis in four human colon carcinoma cell lines.  It states that propolis may provide a novel approach to the chemoprevention and treatment of human colon carcinoma.  This study can be found at:


Studies cited on http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/propolis, state that:

  • One of the flavonoids extracted from propolis showed a more potent cytotoxic activity against human lung adenocarcinoma (A549) and human fibrosarcoma (HT-1080) cells than did the anticancer drug 5-fluoruracil .  It also cited a study that showed propolis was found to inhibit proliferation and induced cell death in human leukemia (HL-60) cells.

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. You can read more about this at:


Writing in Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology, researchers expanded on some of propolis’ potential effects:

  • “Propolis, a waxy substance produced by the honeybee, has been adopted as a form of folk medicine since ancient times. It has a wide spectrum of alleged applications including potential anti-infection and anticancer effects. Many of the therapeutic effects can be attributed to its immunomodulatory functions. The composition of propolis can vary according to the geographic locations from where the bees obtained the ingredients.
  • Two main immunopotent chemicals have been identified as caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and artepillin C. Propolis, CAPE, and artepillin C have been shown to exert summative immunosuppressive function on T lymphocyte subsets but paradoxically activate macrophage function.
  • On the other hand, they also have potential antitumor properties by different postulated mechanisms such as suppressing cancer cells proliferation via its anti-inflammatory effects; decreasing the cancer stem cell populations; blocking specific oncogene signaling pathways; exerting antiangiogenic effects; and modulating the tumor microenvironment.
  • The good bioavailability by the oral route and good historical safety profile makes propolis an ideal adjuvant agent for future immunomodulatory or anticancer regimens.”

More on this at:http://www.naturalnews.com/040533_propolis_cancer_prevention_immune_function.html

  • A study from 2010 tested propolis for its effect on malignant colon cancer cells and normal cells. The extract of propolis compounds were found to be the most active against HT-29 human colon adenocarcinoma cells, without affecting normal human cells, arresting the cancer cells at the G(2)/M phase of the cell cycle.  This article can be found at:
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.