The Impact of Honey on Breast Cancer Cells, Rasha Alhaj and Alan Purohit
Purpose: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Although breast cancers are generally oestrogen receptor positive initially, a substantial proportion becomes oestrogen receptor negative. Oestrogen receptor positive breast cancers are associated with a better prognosis than oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancers as they are more responsive to hormonal therapy. The aim of the present study was to assess the inhibitory effect of honey on MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines.
Methodology: Three different varieties of Sudanese honey collected from different parts of Sudan (south, west and east) were initially tested for their effects on the proliferation of MCF-7 and MDAMB-231 breast cancer cells. When tested at a 20 times dilution in growth medium, all three varieties of honey produced 40%–85% inhibition of growth of these cells. One particular variety of honey (west) significantly inhibited the growth of MCF-7 cells and MDA-MB-231 by 80% ±5 and 50% ±5 respectively. This honey was further characterised. Twenty times diluted honey was treated as follows:
1. Charcoal to adsorb small molecular weight substances;
2. Ether extracted to remove ether-soluble substances;
3. One hour at 65ºC to assess temperature-stability of the test substances.
Findings: In conclusion, a large molecular weight soluble component of honey was found to have significant
growth inhibitory effects on MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell lines. Further analysis is in progress to identify and characterise the substance.
Originality/value: The identification of endogenous inhibitors of breast cancer cells is important. The substance present in honey may possibly have a role to play in the prevention of breast cancer development and progression.
Keywords: oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers; oestrogen receptor negative breast cancers; honey
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: R. Alhaj and A. Purohit (2017) ‘The Impact of Honey on Breast Cancer Cells’, Int. J. Food, Nutrition and Public Health, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 103–109.