30 November, 2015:
Climacteric symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, pain during sexual intercourse, hair loss, forgetfulness, depression and sleeping disturbances are common complaints among breast cancer patients. Some of them are receiving anti-hormonal treatment and others develop ovarian failure as a consequence of cancer treatment. Among these patients, many therapies for alleviating such symptoms have been tested but the results are conflicting. Recently, Münstedt and colleagues have published an study assessing the role of bee pollen and honey in relieving menopausal symptoms in patients receiving tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors/inactivators . The authors compared a pollen honey mixture with pure honey (placebo) in a prospective, randomized, cross-over trial. Of the 46 patients recruited; 68.3% reported an improvement in their symptoms while taking honey, compared with 70.9% (22/31) who reported an improvement with pollen (the difference was non-significant). This study provided evidence that honey and bee pollen may improve menopausal symptoms in breast cancer patients on anti-hormonal treatment.
This study highlights that both honey and the pollen–honey mixture improved menopausal complaints in breast cancer patients. Honey was found to be very effective in patients receiving aromatase inhibitors; nevertheless, an increase in estradiol levels was detected among these subjects and this may raise some concerns regarding the safety of honey in such patients. Previous studies have suggested the possible role of bee products for symptoms in menopausal women [2,3]; however, this study is the first suggesting that the pollen–honey mixture improves menopausal symptoms even in breast cancer patients undergoing anti-hormonal treatment. Anecdotally, certain patients also reported additional favorable effects, including reduced hair loss, improvement in bowel movement and normalized blood pressure.