Honeybee substance freezes prostate cancer growth (Hint, it's not honey)

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Something honeybees produce (not honey, believe it or not) is showing some serious tumor-fighting properties against prostate cancer, based on early tests on cells in the lab.

The substance is called caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE, something derived from the resin known as propolis that bees use to patch hive holes. And University of Chicago researchers say they determined that CAPE stopped early-stage prostate cancer from growing by turning off the mechanism tumor cells use to sniff out sustenance for growth. A series of cancer cell lines were used in the study.

Details are published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. It's worth noting though, that this is an example where a homeopathic remedy may actually have potential as a new drug. For years, the researchers note, propolis has been used as a natural treatment for everything from sore throats to allergies and burns, and yes, cancer. Should the results bare themselves out in subsequent animal and human tests, there are two possible results here. Propolis could gain new clout as a herbal remedy that actually has cancer fighting properties, or it could become the basis for pharmaceutical research using natural elements as a cancer drug. The researchers themselves say the compound could become a valid-co-treatment alongside chemotherapy drugs used to fight tumors.

Right away, the compound joins tarantula venom, poisonous mushrooms, baking soda and other natural substances as possible cancer treatments that have shown promise in early-stage research.

"A typical problem in bringing some of these herbal remedies into the clinic is that nobody knows how they act, nobody knows the mechanism and therefore researchers are typically very hesitant to add them to any pharmaceutical treatment strategy," Richard Jones, a senior author on the paper, said in a statement. "Now we'll actually be able to systemically demonstrate the parts of cell physiology that are affected by these compounds."

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract

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