Anticancer Activities of Propolis

Propolis is a resinous substance produced by honeybees. Its biological activities and chemical constituents may vary according to the geographic location and to the different plant sources. Propolis is thought to be effective in primary cancer prevention because of its properties of direct anticancer activity, immune enhancing property and antioxidant effect.

Propolis Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Many constituents of propolis have antitumor activities including artepillin C, caffeic acid phenyl ester (CAPE), luteolin, galangin, and quercetin. Propolis, was first identified as an anti-cancer remedy in a late 1980s when “Dezider Grunberger’s group at Columbia University” found that CAPE is the important anti-cancer ingredient.

PropolisAn in vitro study found propolis to have a more potent cytotoxic effect against human lung adenocarcinoma (A549) and human fibrosarcoma (HT-1080) cells compared to 5-fluorouracil. A study reported in “Nutrition and Cancer” in 2003 revealed that propolis stimulated apoptosis and necrosis of lung cancer tumors in mice. According to a study reported in the Feb 2004 issue of the “American Journal of  Biochemistry and Biotechnology“, propolis contains therapeutic compounds that can kill MCF-7, a breast carcinoma cell. In an animal-based study reported in 2005 in Veterinary Research Communications, scientists found that caffeic acid reduced the number of lung tumors in mice.

The investigators found that caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) arrests early-stage prostate cancer by shutting down the tumour cells’ system for detecting sources of nutrition. “If you feed CAPE to mice daily, their tumours will stop growing. After several weeks, if you stop the treatment, the tumours will begin to grow again at their original pace,” said Richard B. Jones. During the study, mice that had human prostate tumors grafted in to them were administered oral doses of CAPE for 6 weeks. The tumors volume growth was reduced by half as long as they were administered CAPE. Several weeks after discontinuing the CAPE therapy the tumor cells began to grow at their original pace again, suggesting the substance does not kill the cells just prevents cellular division and prostate cancer proliferation.

Since bee propolis contains anti-cancer ingredients caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) and artepillin C, both of which block the oncogenic PAK1 signaling pathways, its possible therapeutic effects on NF tumors were explored in vivo. The PAK 1 is understood to be responsible for the activation of molecules fostering cellular division, the survival of cancer cells, the invasion of the body by the tumor and the development of blood vessels within the tumor. Where CAPE (Caffeic acid phenethyl ester) was taken orally by mice with lung tumours, a reduction of tumour size of 50 % was noted.  Artepillin C; has been isolated from propolis and has been shown to have cytotoxic effect on human lung cancer cells, human gastric carcinoma cells and mouse colon carcinoma cells in vitro. In a survey conducted in 2007 observed a significant  reduction in the emergence of new blood vessels within the tumor in mice treated orally with Artepillin C. Shown that intratumoral injections of 500 mgs of Artepillin C produced apoptosis and an increase in immune defenses. More than 70% of cancers are PAK1 dependant and Artepillin C appears to be a very  strong blocking agent of PAK1.

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