An ongoing study of breast cancer patients has found that the topical use of manuka honey may prevent or at least decrease the duration of radiation-induced dermatitis.
Reports on partial study results released earlier this week at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress suggests that the high levels of antioxidants found in the New Zealand honey may be responsible for successful test results. The honey, which comes from bees that frequent the manuka bush, has also been demonstrated to help heal open wounds and inflamed areas of skin, according to the reports.
Radiation dermatitis is common side effect in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. A number of topical agents have long been used to treat the irritation, but nothing has been proven before to actually prevent it.
In the study of 81 patients undergoing external beam radiation therapy, New Zealand physician Nichola Naidoo found that those treated with the honey had a much lower incidence of dermatitis than patients treated with other kinds of ointments. She called the results promising, but said further study would be necessary to confirm the results.