Best of the Weekly Thread: thank goodness for the bees, the alarming rise of cancer in young adults, and why the future doesn’t exist.

In the Fall of 2023 I came across a podcast episode featuring the co-founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals on the “Ben Greenfield Life '' podcast that was incredibly enlightening on the benefits of the various byproducts of bees. 

I’m personally quite familiar with the various byproducts we harvest from bees, and am a fan of Beekeeper’s Naturals products specifically, as I use them myself, and despite this prior knowledge, I found this podcast episode to be extremely eye opening as to just how powerful these bee byproducts can be for one’s health in many different ways. 

I’m going to provide a relatively quick breakdown of the three main byproducts harvested from bees (aside from raw honey, which in and of itself is an immune boosting, nutritional powerhouse), and if you’re interested in learning more, I highly, highly recommend checking out the aforementioned podcast, which I’ll link to at the end of this segment. 


Bee propolis is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used as a sealant for unwanted open spaces in the beehive and to protect the colony from infection.

Propolis is a complex substance that contains over 300 different compounds, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, terpenes, and essential oils. These compounds have a variety of biological activities, including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Propolis’ immune boosting and antiviral properties have been well documented, as it works to help boost immunity in the following ways:

Increasing the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are responsible for fighting infection, and propolis has been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, including neutrophils, lymphocytes, and macrophages.

Activating phagocytes. Phagocytes are white blood cells that engulf and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. Propolis has been shown to activate phagocytes, making them more effective at fighting infection.

Increasing the production of antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that bind to specific pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, and help to neutralize them. Propolis has been shown to increase the production of antibodies, which can help to protect the body from infection.

Furthermore, your gut and the health of its microbiome (the bacterial environment it houses) is at the core of your functional health, and propolis can be very beneficial in supporting gut health in the following ways:

It has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Propolis can help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi in the gut, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Candida. This can help to improve overall gut health and reduce the risk of digestive problems.

It supports the growth of beneficial bacteria. Propolis may also help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria play an important role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function.

It reduces inflammation. Propolis has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce inflammation in the gut. This can be beneficial for people with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, and in general, for everyone, the more you can reduce gut and systemic inflammation, the better your body, including the immune system, will function as a whole. 

It strengthens the gut barrier. Propolis can help to strengthen the gut barrier, which is the lining of the gut that protects the body from harmful substances. This can help to prevent leaky gut, a condition in which toxins and bacteria leak from the gut into the bloodstream.

Bee Pollen 

Bee pollen is a mixture of flower pollen, nectar, enzymes, honey, wax, and bee secretions. Bees collect pollen from flowers and transport it to the beehive, where it is stored and used as food for the colony.

Bee pollen is a nutrient-rich food that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and enzymes. 

Bee pollen has also been shown to boost immunity, reduce the severity of allergies, and is probably best used as a food supplement that you can sprinkle on just about anything that will instantly add a complex breadth of essential micronutrients to your food. 

Royal Jelly

Royal jelly is a milky secretion produced by worker honeybees. It is fed to all larvae in the colony for the first three days of life, but the queen bee is fed royal jelly throughout her entire life. Royal jelly is responsible for the queen bee's larger size, longer lifespan, and ability to lay thousands of eggs per day.

Royal jelly is a complex substance that contains water, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It is also one of the richest natural sources of 10-hydroxy-2-decenoic acid (10-HDA), a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Royal Jelly & The Brain

Royal Jelly also has tremendous brain-boosting benefits that include improving cognitive function in the short term, and also helping to reduce risk of neurodegenerative disease. 

Improving cognitive function. Royal jelly has been shown to improve cognitive function in both animal and human studies. 

Protecting against neurodegenerative diseases. Royal jelly contains antioxidants and other compounds that may help to protect the brain from damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. For example, one study found that royal jelly reduced the formation of amyloid beta plaques, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Promoting neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process of creating new neurons in the brain and royal jelly has been shown to promote neurogenesis in animal studies. 

I personally use propolis throat spray, which is a great, proven, point of contact antiviral during cold & flu season, and eat a hefty teaspoon of Beekeeper’s Naturals Superfood Honey containing propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly, either directly, or in a hot drink almost every day. 

If you’d like to learn even more about the amazing byproducts we harvest from bees, be sure to give the podcast episode a listen.

CLICK HERE to listen on Apple.

CLICK HERE to listen on Spotify.

A paper from the BMJ Oncology Journal titled, Global trends in incidence, death, burden and risk factors of early-onset cancer from 1990 to 2019, showed an alarming trend of a 79% increase in incidence of cancer in younger adults (aged 30-49 years of age), including a 27% increase in deaths. 

A separate editorial article also released on BMJ Oncology titled, Shifting Tides: the rising tide of early onset cancers demands attention, remarked:

“While increasing age is a major non-modifiable risk factor for cancer, the incidence of early onset cancers largely accepted to be in adults under the age of 50 is increasing. In addition, cancers historically found to be more common in older age groups are now being diagnosed in younger adults, including colorectal, breast, esophageal, gastric, and pancreatic, among others.”

The “Global Trends” paper shows a diagram breaking down various risk factors, and there is a noticeable correlation between increased incidence of cancer and metabolic risk factors, namely, an increase in BMI (body mass index) and higher resting blood glucose. 

One of the biggest factors in metabolic syndrome is an inability to metabolize blood glucose, and this can lead to body fat accumulation, and an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s/dementia, and yes, cancer. 

According to the aforementioned paper, and its subsequent analysis, the increase in metabolic syndrome and an inability to metabolize blood sugar effectively does appear to be directly correlated to this alarming increase in incidence of cancer in young adults. 

It is not the only risk factor, but as far as risk factors go, it does appear to be pretty definitively, and directly correlated.

Furthermore, a meta-analysis of 19 studies titled, Serum Glucose and Risk of Cancer: a meta-analysis, showed an RR (risk rate) of 32% of those with high resting blood glucose, or in other words, a 32% increased risk of cancer if you have high resting blood glucose. 

NOTE:  When it comes to research, I prefer meta-analyses (which you may have noticed from week to week), as a meta-analysis is an overarching analysis of multiple studies, which tends to remove the biases that can show up in individual studies. Therefore, the findings of a meta-analysis tend to be more telling, more reliable, and more definitive. 

The short of all of this research and findings…

Poor metabolic health, especially high resting blood sugar levels (indicating poor blood sugar metabolism), appears to have a direct correlation on risk rate, and overall incidence of cancer, and appears to be a leading cause of this alarming rise in incidence of cancer in young adults as low quality, processed foods become more and more a part of the Standard American Diet (SAD). 

Okay, but why?

The Warburg Effect

The Warburg Effect is a phenomenon observed in cancer cells where they exhibit increased glucose uptake and conversion of glucose to lactate, even in the presence of oxygen (aerobic glycolysis). Normally, healthy cells primarily generate energy through oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. However, cancer cells tend to rely more on glycolysis for energy production, even when oxygen is available. This metabolic shift is named after Otto Warburg, the scientist who first described it in the 1920s. The exact reasons for this metabolic change in cancer cells are still a subject of research, but it's believed to support their rapid growth and proliferation.

So we’ve known since the 1920s that cancer cells behave differently, and prefer glucose (sugar) for energy production. 

A paper titled, The Warburg Effect: How does it benefit cancer cells?, states the following about the Warburg Effect and cancer:

“Cancer cells rewire their metabolism to promote growth, survival, proliferation, and long-term maintenance. The common feature of this altered metabolism is increased glucose uptake and fermentation of glucose to lactate. This phenomenon is observed even in the presence of completely functioning mitochondria and together is known as the Warburg Effect.”

There’s a decent chance that if you’re reading this, you have cancer somewhere in your body, as it’s very common, and grows more and more common as we age, to have cancerous cells in the body. 

When someone gets diagnosed with cancer, what this actually means is that a pre-existing cancer has now become a problem, a potentially life-threatening problem. 

The goal is not to avoid cancer altogether, as that’s probably an impossibility over time, the goal is to stay on top of cancer, and prevent it from growing, and metastasizing to the point where it becomes a problem. 

The reality is that somewhere inside your body you probably have some cells that are cancerous, or potentially cancerous, and as we’ve learned through the Warburg Effect, the more often your body is unable to metabolize blood glucose effectively, you are potentially feeding cancerous cells in your body, which can lead to their proliferation over time. 

And to boot, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and increasing your body’s ability to metabolize blood sugar is also probably the most effective way to boost metabolism. 

Here are some simple ways to help your body more effectively metabolize blood sugar:

  1. Intermittent fasting and periodic extended fasts (over 24 hours).
  2. Cold showers to start your day (3-5 minutes). 
  3. Exercise
  4. More, and higher quality sleep
  5. Cutting back on carbohydrate intake
  6. When eating carbs, focus on unprocessed carb sources like fruit, honey, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables. 
  7. Eat more protein. The greater the percentage of calories coming from protein, the more blood sugar levels stay stabilized, and metabolism increases. 
  8. Lift weights. Skeletal muscle is your body’s main glucose disposal agent. The stronger you are, the more readily your body is able to dispose of blood sugar.
  9. Supplement with potent blood glucose disposal agents and fasting mimickers like Berberine
  10. Avoid refined seed oils like canola (vegetable) oil. These oils may not contain any sugar, but they negatively affect your insulin response.

Make the minutes of the day matter.
The rest takes care of itself. 

The future doesn’t exist. 

It’s all a figment of your imagination. 

What we call, or view as “the future”, is actually a made up, hypothetical world you create in your own mind.

Everyone’s “future” is different, and quite frankly, no one truly knows what it will bring. 

Yet, we spend so much time thinking, and then worrying about it. 

Ever feel so overwhelmed that you were paralyzed with indecision? 

You don’t know what to do next. 

You don’t know where to start. 

There’s just too much to do, too much to think about. 

Start by making the minutes matter.

If you can start by focusing on the “here and now”, and win each and every minute, or even most minutes. 

Those minutes add up. 

And cumulatively, you make progress. 

Probably more than you expected if you just keep making them matter. 

If you make the minutes of the day matter, the future will take care of itself. 

And heck, you might even be surprised by how good the future looks when you get there.