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July 1, 2004

Honey in Tumor Surgery

Arch Surg. 2004;139(7):802. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.7.802-b

I had a chance to read the comments of Schneider1 on the article by Hamzaoglu et al.2 This latter article reports an interesting observation on the activity of honey in the inhibition of surgical tumor implantation. Schneider states that honey will reach a solid basis in surgical practice only when clear insight into the components of this nutrient are achieved. Besides the fact that the effects observed by Hamzaoglu and colleagues could simply be attributed to a local increase in viscosity by honey, which creates an environment unfavorable to the spreading of metastatic cells, Schneider does not take into account that honey is a highly complex mixture of at least 200 phytochemicals whose composition is dependent on its geographical and floral origin. It is true that honey behaves as a promising cancer chemopreventive nutrient: it has a significant antioxidant content and contains several chemicals with radical scavenging properties (chlorogenic acid and phenolic acid derivatives, flavonoid aglycons, and caffeic acid and coumaric acid esters) claimed as antiproliferative agents owing to their suppressive effects on the overexpression of cyclooxygenase 2. In an explorative investigation, rather than tracing the detailed pattern of the phytochemical composition of different types of honey, it would be less expensive to conduct a study with antioxidant-standardized honeys in tumoral cell lines to find the effective anticarcinogenic potential. This approach could be more reasonable for making honey an acceptable form of medicine in surgery. Recent studies indicate that it is the additive and synergistic combination of phytochemicals contained in the whole nutrient (vegetable or fruit) that is involved in cancer chemoprevention.