Hot flushes, night sweats, pain during sexual intercourse, hair loss, forgetfulness, depression and sleeping disturbances are common problems among breast cancer patients undergoing antihormonal treatment. The aim of this study was to investigate whether bee pollen can alleviate menopausal symptoms in patients receiving tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors/inactivators. We compared a pollen-honey mixture with pure honey (placebo) in a prospective, randomized crossover trial in breast cancer patients receiving antihormonal treatment. The menopausal complaints were assessed using the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS). A total of 46 patients were recruited; 68.3% (28/41) of the patients 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). The results were confirmed by significant improvements in the postmenopausal complaints in the two groups in a pre-post analysis in the MRS and its 3 subscales. This study provided evidence that honey and bee pollen may improve the menopausal symptoms of breast cancer patients on antihormonal treatment. Of note, honey, which was intended to be used as a placebo, produced similar effects as pollen and they both exceeded the extent of a placebo effect in this setting (~25%).
Keywords: bee pollen; breast cancer; honey; hot flushes; menopause.