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Benefits of Propolis: Could Bee Product Help Fight Mesothelioma?

Benefits of Propolis

A new review of the potential benefits of propolis suggests that this antioxidant-rich bee product might be a worthwhile addition to the fight against mesothelioma. 

Bees produce propolis from the sap of evergreens. The research on this supplement is limited. There has never been a study on propolis and mesothelioma. 

But a new Taiwanese review concludes that there is enough evidence on the benefits of propolis in several other types of cancer to warrant further study. 

What is Propolis?

Propolis is a sticky resin that bees produce to help protect their hives. It is made up of a combination of evergreen sap, bee saliva, and beeswax. Bees coat their hives with it.

Many ancient civilizations believed in the health benefits of propolis. Among other things, the bee product seems to have antifungal, antibacterial, and regenerative properties. According to a Healthline article, Greeks and Assyrians used propolis on wounds. Other ancient people took propolis internally to treat illnesses.

Modern science is just beginning to understand the potential benefits of propolis. A 2015 article in Burns & Trauma suggests that it can help heal burns. Another study from 2014 highlighted it’s cancer-fighting properties. 

Like fruits and vegetables, propolis contains an array of polyphenols. Polyphenols reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Inflammation and compromised immunity may contribute to the spread of mesothelioma and other types of cancer. 

Review of the Benefits of Propolis

The new review of propolis was led by the Department of Chinese Medicine at the Taichung Hospital Ministry of Health and Well-being in Taiwan. 

Researchers found studies on the benefits of propolis for people with various kinds of cancer. Lung cancer was among the cancers studied. Pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer share many characteristics and are treated similarly. 

The review summarized the cancer-fighting and cancer-preventing benefits of propolis from other studies. The summary includes a range of effects that might help patients with mesothelioma and other rare cancers. Some of the functions of propolis discovered include:

  • pro-apoptotic (prompts natural cell death)
  • cytotoxic (kills cancer cells)
  • anti-proliferative (prevents cell division) 
  • anti-metastatic (prevents cancer from spreading)
  • anti-invasive (prevents cancer from invading tissue)
  • anti-angiogenic (prevents development of tumor blood supply)
  • anti-genotoxic (protects corruption of genetic information)
  • antioxidant (fights destructive free radicals)
  • immunomodulatory (helps the immune system fight cancer)
  • Anti-inflammatory

There is no cure for mesothelioma. Standard cancer treatments are only moderately effective. The findings on the benefits of propolis suggest that it deserves further study as a supplement to cancer treatment.

“Propolis could be used as an adjuvant for treating various cancers along with standard chemotherapeutic drugs,” writes lead author Hui-Fang Chiu. “However, many large-scale clinical studies are needed to justify such applications.”


Chiu, HF, et al, “Chemopreventive and Chemotherapeutic Effect of Propolis and Its Constituents: A Mini-review”, June 30, 2020, Journal of Cancer Prevention, http://www.jcpjournal.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.15430/JCP.2020.25.2.70

Xuan, H, “Antitumor Activity of Chinese Propolis in Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Cells”, May 22, 2014, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/280120/

Goldman, R, ” The Benefits and Uses of Propolis”, September 28, 2018, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/propolis-an-ancient-healer

Martinotti, S, “Propolis: a new frontier for wound healing?”, July 22, 2015, Burns & Trauma, https://burnstrauma.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41038-015-0010-z

Propolis, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-390/propolis

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