Role of honey in preventing radiation-induced oral mucositis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials†
Background: Radiotherapy-induced mucositis easily arouses oral ulceration, pain and xerostomia. Intense pain, difficulty swallowing and speaking greatly affect the quality of life and the treatment process. Objective: This study aimed to examine the effects of honey in preventing and treating radiotherapy-induced mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer using a different analytical strategy. Methods: Articles published until July 2020 were searched across PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. Randomized controlled trials that evaluated honey were assessed by two reviewers. The number of mucositis incidences was the primary outcome. Weight loss, pain scale and incidence of severe pain were pooled to be calculated as secondary outcomes. Statistical analyses were conducted using RevMan5.3 software. The funnel plot was used to detect publication bias. Results: Overall, 11/179 records with 715 patients who received radiotherapy were included. Honey significantly reduced the incidence of grade 2 (OR: 0.43, 95%CI: 0.54–0.98, P = 0.03), grade 3 (odds ratio [OR]: 0.24, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.16–0.35, P < 0.001) and grade 4 mucositis (OR: 0.17, 95%CI: 0.08–0.36, P < 0.001). In grade 1 (OR: 1.54, 95%CI: 1.15–2.06, P = 0.003), and honey was not significant in preventing radiation-induced mucositis. The incidence of unbearable pain was lower in the honey group at all grades (OR: −0.20, 95%CI: −0.33 to −0.07). The effect of honey on weight loss and pain score was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Honey can prevent and alleviate grade 2–4 mucositis, especially in high grade mucositis. Honey also provides some relief from severe pain. But, more evidence is required to prove that honey is an effective substance for relieving pain or minimizing weight loss.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Review Articles