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Can Maple Syrup Kill Cancer Cells?

The words "maple syrup" are often used to describe a continental breakfast spread. And, most people associate it with simple sugars. However, a recent study indicates that the properties of maple syrup might fight cancer. It tested the effect of three types of maple syrup – golden, amber, and dark brown – on the growth, proliferation, and invasion of cancer cells. The darkest syrup inhibited the activity of cancer cells, perhaps due to its higher antioxidant properties.

The word “cancer” seems to bring a sense of doom with it. And, each person has a different perspective on it. To some, it’s inevitable, while to others it’s a reason to stay healthy. And, then there are some who live with cancer.

In America, approximately 38.5 percent of men and women are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, at some point in their lives.1 Sensing the danger that the disease poses, a lot of scientists have devoted their lives to finding ways to cure it. And, a recent study indicates that a kitchen staple in most homes – maple syrup – might inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Maple Syrup Is More Than Just Sugar

Maple syrup has health-friendly properites.

Most health articles today talk about how sugar is bad for health. Hence the fact that maple syrup, a sugar, fights cancer might seem like a stretch. In the past, a few studies have indicated that sugar might lead to metabolic cell changes in the body that are consistent with the initiation and promotion of cancer.2

This study, however, hasn’t been substantiated by other studies. In fact, research indicates that while cancer cells do consume more sugar than normal cells, their consumption can’t worsen cancer. Alternatively, giving up sugar doesn’t cure cancer either. But, a diet high in sugar might lead to obesity which, in turn, might increase your risk of cancer.3

Researchers have identified that despite being a source of sucrose and fructose, the constituents of maple syrup have a positive effect on health. These include vitamins and minerals like zinc and manganese, organic acids, and amino acids. But, it’s the polyphenols in maple syrup that were key to its anti-cancer properties.4

Maple Syrup’s Properties Lower Cancer Cell Growth

Maple syrup prevents cancer cell expansion.

A recent study conducted by Japanese researchers, looked into the effects of maple syrup on colorectal (colon cancer) cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. For this purpose, three different types of maple syrup were used based on their color (light to dark). The first type was slightly golden, the second was amber, and the third was very dark brown.

Maple syrup was then administered to the cancer cells and was found to inhibit their growth significantly. It also prevented the expansion of these cells.

The study theorized that the key to maple syrup’s effectiveness in preventing cancer cell expansion could be due to two factors, including

  • Apoptosis: Apoptosis is a process by which multi-cellular organisms destroy cells that are no longer needed or are a threat to the organism.5 Maple syrup might induce this process when administered to cancer cells.
  • Inhibition of cancerous enzymes: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes that play a vital role in cancer cell invasion and survival.6 Maple syrup is believed to reduce both these enzymes.

Besides this, the polyphenols in maple syrup also inhibit cell growth, in ways that are independent of apoptosis. Hence, the study concluded that there are certain unidentified properties in maple syrup fight cancer and that further research is required to identify these specific properties.7

Dark Maple Syrup Is The Most Effective

Dark Maple Syrup Is The Most Effective

Maple syrup can be classified into five different types, based on Canadian standards. This includes

  • AA (extra light)
  • Grade A (light)
  • Grade B (medium)
  • Grade C (amber)
  • Grade D (dark)

The antiproliferative activity of maple syrup was higher in the darker alternatives as compared to the lighter ones. This could be attributed to the fact that the antioxidant properties of the syrup is higher in its darker options.8

Besides, colon cancer, maple syrup is believed to fight prostate, lung, and breast cancer.9 However, further research is required to back this up as well.

It’s important to remember that the maple syrup in question is the original, dark maple syrup, not the diluted pancake syrup that we lather on our breakfasts. Having said that, if you do manage to stock up on pure maple syrup, be sure to consume it only in moderation. After all, too much of anything can’t be too good for you.

References   [ + ]

1. Cancer Stat Facts: Cancer of Any Site. National Cancer Institute.
2. Onodera, Yasuhito, Jin-Min Nam, and Mina J. Bissell. “Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways.” The Journal of clinical investigation 124, no. 1 (2014): 367.
3. Common Cancer Myths and Misconceptions. National Cancer Institute.
4. González-Sarrías, Antonio, Hang Ma, Maxwell E. Edmonds, and Navindra P. Seeram. “Maple polyphenols, ginnalins A–C, induce S-and G2/M-cell cycle arrest in colon and breast cancer cells mediated by decreasing cyclins A and D1 levels.” Food chemistry 136, no. 2 (2013): 636-642.
5. Elmore, Susan. “Apoptosis: a review of programmed cell death.” Toxicologic pathology 35, no. 4 (2007): 495-516.
6. Reunanen, Niina, and VeliMatti Kähäri. “Matrix metalloproteinases in cancer cell invasion.” (2013).
7, 8. Yamamoto, Tetsushi, Kentaro Uemura, Kaho Moriyama, Kuniko Mitamura, and Atsushi Taga. “Inhibitory effect of maple syrup on the cell growth and invasion of human colorectal cancer cells.” Oncology reports 33, no. 4 (2015): 1579-1584.
9. Antioxidant activity, inhibition of nitric oxide overproduction, and in vitro antiproliferative effect of maple sap and syrup from Acer saccharum.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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