J Cancer Prev.  2020 Jun;25(2):70-78. 10.15430/JCP.2020.25.2.70.

Chemopreventive and Chemotherapeutic Effect of Propolis and Its Constituents: A Mini-review

  • 1Department of Chinese Medicine, Taichung Hospital Ministry of Health and Well-being, Taiwan, ROC
  • 2School of Nutrition, Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan, ROC
  • 3School of Health Diet and Industry Management, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung City, Taiwan, ROC
  • 4Faculty of Food Biotechnologies and Engineering, ITMO University, Saint-Peterburg, Russia


Propolis is a bee wax rich in various phytocomponents and traditionally used to treat various ailments. Propolis is reported to possess an array of biological properties including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic as well as cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, renoprotective, and derma protective activities. A plethora of studies confirmed that propolis is effective against various types of cancer including head and neck, lung, liver, brain (glioma), pancreas, kidney, prostate, skin (melanoma), breast, oral, esophagus, gastric, colorectal, and bladder cancers. However, many researchers have demonstrated that propolis displays potent chemoprotective/chemopreventive or anti-cancer activity against only a few types of cancers like oral, gastrointestinal, dermal (melanoma), breast, and prostate cancers. Therefore, this mini-review only summarizes the chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic activities of propolis and its updated underlying mechanisms. Taken together, propolis displays potent chemoprotective or anti-cancer effect due to the presence of various phytocomponents which contribute to pro-apoptotic, cytotoxic, anti-proliferative (cell cycle arrest), anti-metastatic, anti-invasive, anti-angiogenic and anti-genotoxic or anti-mutagenic properties along with antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory functions. Hence, propolis could be used as an adjuvant for treating various cancers along with standard chemotherapeutic drugs. However, many large-scale clinical studies are needed to justify such applications.


Propolis; Anti-cancer; Adjuvant therapy; Apoptosis; Chemotherapeutic drugs
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