Smoking is a known factor in many serious health issues: stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, to name but a few. In their recent research in Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry, Syaheedah et al. sought to study what impact antioxidants in honey have on the oxidative stress in smokers.
Smoking introduces free radicals into the body resulting in oxidative stress, decreased antioxidant status and negative health impacts. Past research has shown supplementation of herbs and algae with antioxidant qualities to improve oxidative status in smokers. Honey supplementation has been effective in reducing the toxic effects of cigarette smoke in rats, yet prior to this study the effects of honey supplementation in chronic smokers was yet to be documented.
Honey, a natural product, created by bees and derived from nectar, contains sugars but also minerals, proteins, organic acids and antioxidants. Syaheedah et al. set out to determine the effects of Tualang honey on smokers after a 12-week supplementation on a group of 32 chronic smokers with two equal-sized control groups; one who were not supplemented and a group of non-smokers. Bloods were taken pre- and post-intervention. In the smoking groups, antioxidant status was significantly less than non-smoking pre-intervention. There was high incidence of end products indicating oxidant activity in the smokers, likely caused by the free radicals in cigarettes. Oxidant activity can damage cell structure and function, leading to health problems for the individual. At the end of the 12 weeks, honey group smokers were found to have greatly improved antioxidant status, strongly suggesting the capability of the honey to offset oxidative stress with its antioxidants which have strong free radical 'scavenging' activities. Syaheedah concludes "Our findings may suggest that honey can be used as a supplement among those who are exposed to free radicals in cigarette smoke either as active or passive smokers in order to protect or reduce the risk of having cardiovascular diseases."