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+00:0042 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.

    • dr.dooz August 8, 2018 at 3:37 am - Reply

      Can you help me where to google it ?
      Can I find the book online??
      Thank u

  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).

  12. annemarie June 19, 2018 at 5:04 pm - Reply

    Hi. I noticed you said raw honey is not recommend for those with compromised immune systems because of infection possibilities?/ I’m confused now. Because wouldn’t cancer mean your immune system is compromised?. & also, then why is it recommend to put on infected wounds for healing.. Wouldn’t that make the patient sicker then, or is it doing both,? Healing the wound and comprimising the immune system at the same time…

    • Dr. Heather Paulson June 25, 2018 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      Hi. Great question, as there are a lot of nuisances when it comes to cancer and the immune system. In regards to raw honey (which is Honey that has not been pasteurized), it may contain botulinim spores. This is the spore responsible for botulism. If you have low white blood cell counts, you have a greater risk of food borne illnesses and infections. You also have a greater risk when your immune system is not full formed yet, like with infants or people post bone marrow transplant.

      When I was using the word compromised, I meant the definition that includes a reduce in quality, value, or degree; weaken or lower. Not all people with cancer have a reduction in value (lab numbers) in their immune system. Some even have elevated immune markers. This is why it’s important to talk about your individual risks and benefits with a health care provider before starting anything new 🙂

  13. Cat I July 16, 2018 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I have chronic lymphocytic leukemia. I am getting ready to start chemo in a few weeks. Is it okay to consume local raw honey until then or should I stop and go buy honey elsewhere? I read that you mentioned Manuka, Bush and Natural honey. What is natural honey? I’ve read about Manuka and Bush and I also read some of the ratings, they don’t have very good ratings. I also don’t want to pay 35.00 for a cup of honey. How does one know whether the local honey they bought is raw or pasturized? Is there a noticible difference?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson July 27, 2018 at 11:43 am - Reply

      Hi Cat. Generally CLL impacts the white blood cell count and can suppress the immune system, so I would recommend using pasteurized honey as a precaution. On your Honey label it should mention if it is raw or pasteurized. In general, local honey is best. The label that says 100% Natural Honey doesn’t have any fillers…can you believe that some honey brands actually use corn syrup as a filler?

  14. jesse stephens August 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I have been exposed to agent orange and have skin problems for years. The v.a. has been giving me two different types of creams and shots of steroids in the problem areas, to no real avail. Four months ago I started using raw honey on the spots on my arms and it has done more to clear this up than the years of creams and shots, which are very painful, my arms are about 75% clear.

  15. Bruce Kerr August 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Hello Dr.

    I have started your raw honey therapy. In your experience what is the cure rate w/using raw unfiltered honey alone. It has already stopped the stomach pain, the bleeding and I’m having mostly normal bowel movements. My MD wants me to do the DNA box test which I am abhorring. Are there alternatives to those gross tests?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 5, 2018 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Bruce. I recommend following your Dr’s advice. There are not any alternatives that I am aware of.

  16. Doug August 11, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Hi I’m about to done with 28 sessions of Chemo and Radiation for colon cancer in the sigmoid area. I’m very interested to know which honey would be best for me. I will have surgery in about a month and if honey will boost my healing then I’d like to begin using what’s best for my condition. I totally cut all sugar out of my diet and did away with beef and all foods with a peel unless it was peeled. My Drs have said I’m doing well with exception of Iron and WBC’s being on the lower side but not severe. What’s your opinion?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Doug. The type of Honey that has the most immune benefits is Manuka honey. Please make sure your local health care team approves the addition of Manuka Honey to your diet. Also, with low WBC’s, pasteurized Honey would be safest.

  17. PAT COLBERT August 24, 2018 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    i have multiple myeloma, not going the conventional route. god and natural. i have been eating raw honey, which i will change right away. my family doctor told me to start taking iron which i found out tonight feeds cancer. i was shocked. i will see a hematologist next week.

    since i am n o t going the conventional route i.e. radiation, chemo, will a licensed hematologist, bound by law, really steer me in the right direction – when i walked out of the cancer center here where i lived, i found the center lost well in excess of a million dollars which explains why the doctor was so ticked off. since predominently the medical profession is controlled by the pharmaceutical industry, it is hard to believe anyone associated with these centers in any way (other than natural and integrated doctors) would give the proper advice/treatment to someone who does not use the status quo system.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson September 5, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Pat. The best way to have support is to schedule an appointment with me in Arizona. Looking forward to meeting you in person 🙂

  18. Efi October 13, 2018 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Is heating homey makes it carcinogenic?

    • Dr. Heather Paulson November 13, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Efi,

      I’m not aware of heating honey causing a carcinogenic effect.

      Dr. Paulson

  19. Claire October 24, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

    Dr. Paulson, I am writing to you from Taiwan. My husband has NPC, Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma)stage3. I would really appreciate it if you could tell me if eating raw honey will help him fight cancer. What type of honey do you recommend in my husband case? Please reply a.s.a.p. Thank you a million times.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson November 13, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Claire,

      While the research studies support that use of Honey for improving immune system function, I have not found any studies that show it can address NPC specifically. I do not recommend raw honey (because of the risk of pathogens), especially while on conventional treatments.

  20. Francisco O.Valenzuela Ph.D November 1, 2018 at 12:26 am - Reply

    We consume honey instead of refined sugar. My wife is suffering from Basal cell carcinoma and I was wondering whether our consumption of honey would fall on the bad sugar list. I’m glad is not.
    Thank you Dr. Paulson, and thank you again for being an oncologist ND instead of an oncologist MD, which are a discredit to the healing sciences, for their record (2% success) clearly spell that the demise of radiation and chemotherapy as a cancer cure will save many lives.
    F.Valenzuela Ph.D.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson November 13, 2018 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Valenzuela,

      So grateful that you found this information helpful 🙂 Sending lots of healing to you and your wife.

      In Health,
      Dr. Paulson

  21. Donald E Johnson Jr November 16, 2018 at 8:56 am - Reply

    Hello Dr Paulson, I have recurring esophageal cancer. Can honey help me and if so how much should I be consuming daily. I am also consuming tumeric with my morning and evening meals.

    • Dr. Heather Paulson November 19, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Honey has been show to be beneficial for reducing side effects from radiation. Depending on how your esophageal cancer is being treated, it may be helpful. Turmeric is best absorbed with fat, so if you can tolerate coconut oil, it might be a good addition. As always, please check with your health care team before adding anything 🙂

  22. Sandra marcina November 18, 2018 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Hi . I have Stage 4 SCLC . Extensive . Just started chemo . I will try anything . Will Manuka honey be ok to take on a daily basis .

    • Dr. Heather Paulson November 20, 2018 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra 🙂 Manuka Honey might be okay for you. But always check with your chemo doctors and nurses.

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