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Tualang honey has potential to be used in cancer therapy - USM study

KOTA BAHARU, Jan 11 (Bernama) -- Tualang honey, mostly found in lowland rain forests of Peninsular Malaysia, has the potential to become a supplement for cancer therapy, especially breast cancer, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Prof Madya Dr Nik Soriani Yaacob.

Dr Nik Soriani, USM Kubang Kerian Pathology Department's Head of Department, said initial research found honey from the Tualang trees had a very high potential to be used for proliferation of cancer cells and destroy 'bad' cells to prevent them from spreading.

"However, the research is still in the early stages and need a more in-depth study to determine honey can kill active cancer cells," said Dr Nik Soriani who presented a paper on the activities of Tualang Honey as an Anti-cancer supplement, at the 2nd International Conference on the Medicinal Use of Honey.

About 300 delegates attended the two-day seminar organised by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), to discuss the qualities and nutritional values of honey in the medicinal field and explore various ways of popularizing the product.

Dr Nik Soriani said the next step would be to study whether Tualang honey can kill active cancer cells or would be able to reduce the dosage of drugs and radiation used to kill cancer cells.

"The study is to identify whether honey can reduce or prevent cancer because earlier studies have shown honey had components like anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer," said Dr Nik Soriani.

She added that studies had also shown that Tualang honey had anti-cancer qualities and significant cytotoxic effect on cancer cells cultured in the lab.

"Cancer cells treated with Tualang honey went through a apoptosis process where cancer cells die, a process that normally does not happen, and Tualang honey can also expedite the effect of tamoxifen that is used to kill cancer cells," she said.

Meanwhile, USM Clinical Research Dean Prof Dr Nor Hayati Othman said FAMA had contributed 1.3 metric tones of honey for the research, especially for research on cancer.

Through research since 2006, Tualang honey has been identified as among the purest form of honey and probably better than some of the imported honey.

"Honey that is not in its purest form can cause side effects in the long run and must be avoided," said Dr Nor Hayati.

Tualang honey is extracted from honeycombs found atop Malaysia's tallest tree - Tualang tree - which grows to an astonishing height of more than 250m (about 30 storeys) and found in East Asian rainforests and is mostly found in Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand, northeastern Sumatra, Borneo and Palawan.

The towering tree is best known as home of the Apis dorsatas or Asian rock bees, the world's largest honeybees and the most ferocious, who build their disc-shaped honeycombs on horizontal branches of the tree and each tree can have more than 100 honeycombs.

Some honeycombs are two metres long and can contain as many as 30,000 bees.

They are said to prefer the Tualang tree because the branches start at least 30 metres above the ground and moreover, the trunk is slippery, making it hard for honey-loving sun bears to climb.

MySinchew 2010.01.11


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