Honey and Cancer: The Shocking Truth!

honey and cancerWhat is the relationship between Honey and Cancer?

Can I eat honey if I have cancer? Is honey bad for cancer? These are some of the questions I get most frequently in my office, at dinner parties, and just about everywhere I go. When I was interviewed for Sugar Free Summer I dug a little deeper to make sure you got a great answer.

You know what, the result of this research was shocking!

It turns out honey is safe in cancer. In fact, it might even disrupt cancer cell growth. I know this might seem counter intuitive, especially if you have been reading all about how Sugar Feeds Cancer. That’s the benefit of looking at things a little deeper.

A study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that honey can stop cancer by:

  • Naturally boosting the immune system
  • Reducing Inflammation
  • Fighting infection
  • Healing ulcers and wounds
  • Cause cancer cell death through apoptosis

So, how much honey?

One study reviewed intake of honey in patients with AIDS showed that when they took 80 grams of honey per day for 21 days, their immune cells improved. This is equivalent to about 3 ounces, ¼ cup, or 4 tablespoons of honey per day.

Another study looked at the relationship between cancer incidence and honey intake in developing nations. This study suggested that in people that ate more honey had less cancer. While there could be other factors involved, it is none the less interesting.

Does it need to be a special type of honey?

Studies have looked at Manuka honey, Bush Honey, and natural honey. All seem to be effective against cancer cells and in improving immune status. However, the darker the honey, the more positive plant chemicals it had. So look for darker honey.

What’s in Honey that helps it protect us against cancer?

Some of the polyphenols (aka plant chemicals) that have been studied in honey are:

  • Caffeine acid: a powerful antioxidant
  • Chrysin: can also reduce aromatase enzyme hormone production
  • Caffeic Acid Phenyl Esters (CAPE): has been studied against glioblastoma
  • Quercetin: effective in cell cultures against many cell lines including pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and skin cancer.
  • Apigenin: studied again many cancer types.

Is there anything I should watch out for when it comes to honey?

Yes! A lot of honey on the shelf is being adulterated with fructose syrup and high fructose syrup. It may be best to buy your honey directly from a local beekeeper. Plus, supporting local beekeepers supports local hives.

Bees need our help to stay alive! They are facing their own health epidemic right now. You can learn more at this link.

2018-05-14T17:41:07+00:00 19 Comments

About the Author:

Dr. Heather Paulson, ND, FABNO is a board certified naturopathic oncologist and an expert in combining natural therapies, nutrition, exercise, and emotional healing. She creates a strategy for dealing with cancer just for YOU. In her 10 years of clinic experience, she's helped thousands of people with cancer. She has dedicates her life and medical training helping those moving through the cancer experience.


  1. Jennifer July 26, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this article! I love knowing that honey is yet another one of the gifts nature gives us. I shared it on Twitter and Facebook, I hope it helps someone.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 27, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer! Appreciate the sharing 🙂

  2. tina July 26, 2016 at 10:53 am - Reply

    I get suspicious when I see the word “natural” in front of a natural substance.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 27, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

      Probably wise Tina 😉

  3. Sandy Hapoienu July 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Do you know if bee pollen works the same way?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 27, 2016 at 7:13 am - Reply

      Hi Sandy. Great Question! Bee pollen seems to be working a little differently. They have these chemicals called CAPE, which are little esthers that are blocking tumor growth in cell cultures.

  4. Edie Moore July 27, 2016 at 9:43 am - Reply

    I love learning the scientific facts to help me make wise health care choices

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 27, 2016 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Awesome Edie! Glad we can help provide that for you 🙂

  5. Tawna Stapley June 29, 2017 at 6:32 am - Reply

    This is fantastic to know. Thanks Dr. Paulson. I was just diagnosed with breast cancer and I start chemo on the 3rd of July. Looking forward to eating some honey.

  6. Jen February 28, 2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Is there any risk with chemotherapy and honey? The ACA recommends heat treated honey but all the studies seem to indicate that that reduces its benefits. My husband is wanting to use it to help protect his mouth for radiation as this was beneficial for others but he is getting Chemo as well and we want to be safe.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson May 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Great question! Heat treated honey is the safest during chemotherapy because unpasteurized honey does carry a potential risk of infection (which is also why raw honey isn’t good for babies). Once his immune system gets back to normal numbers, raw could be an OK choice. Hope this helps 🙂

  7. Hussam March 19, 2018 at 10:22 am - Reply

    In the book of human kind The Quran (sent from the one God to all human kind) stated: Honey has heal to all human kind.

    This book The Quran is over 1400 years old.

  8. Tracy March 25, 2018 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Im about to start radiation therapy post lumpectomy for DCIS. I was told I can take my normal vitamins, but not to over do it with high does of antioxidants and vitamins. I just bought some local raw honey to help with allergies, and now I’m confused. Should I be consuming honey if I am about to have radiation therapy? Thanks.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson March 26, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

      Hi Tracey 🙂 Honey has been shown to reduce saliva and mouth changes, as well as sore throat with radiation. So, I tend to recommend honey to my patients during radiation. But always check with your doctors.

  9. Tik. March 31, 2018 at 1:58 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this information.

  10. Georgina April 16, 2018 at 9:34 am - Reply

    My husband is having immunotherapy, is raw honey safe for him? Thank you

    • Dr. Heather Paulson May 15, 2018 at 5:45 am - Reply

      Hi! Thanks for asking…generally speaking, raw honey is not the best for people with compromised immunity because of the infection risk (that’s why you can’t give raw honey to kiddos/babies).

  11. Rakesh Kumar April 16, 2018 at 9:35 am - Reply

    My mother is suffering from Rectum cancer stage IV and undergoing chemotherapy cycle III , should I gave her raw wild honey if yes then how much a day?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson May 15, 2018 at 5:43 am - Reply

      Hi! Great questions 🙂 There are some other things besides honey that I recommend for radiation to the rectum. Check out the hydrotherapy article to learn about sitz baths https://drheatherpaulson.com/hydrotherapy/ (*This is not medical advice, please check with your physician before starting anything new).

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