can bird nest cause cancer

Birds are remarkable and fascinating creatures, able to glide through the sky with a degree of freedom we humans can only fantasize about.

In many cultures, including Asian traditions, birds are revered as symbols of prestige, owing to their association with the heavens.

Perhaps this is why the nests of certain species have been prized as a culinary delicacy for hundreds of years. To this day, they’re still regarded as a high end nutritious food with therapeutic properties in many parts of Asia.

Edible bird’s nests are also known as “Yan Wo”and “caviar of the East” in the Chinese community (1).

In traditional Chinese medicine, they’ve been used therapeutically since the Tang and Sung dynasties — regarded as a sign of power and status (1).

The nests are produced by the edible-nest swiftlet, a small bird native to Southeast Asia (1).

The world’s greatest flock of swiftlets lives in Indonesia, the largest producer of edible bird’s nests, followed by Malaysia, the most prolific producer of enthralling bird’s nests (2).

Although 24 species of swiftlets are found worldwide, only the white-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus fuciphagus) and the black-nest swiftlets (Aerodramus maximus) contribute to the lucrative market (3).

It’s commonly believed that chicken has high growth hormone levels. However, Chiu notes that this is untrue because hormone use was outlawed in Hong Kong’s chicken farms in the 1980s. The Centre for Food Safety reported that samples of chicken purchased from nearby markets did not contain any hormone residues.

Naturally, since they can cause weight gain, all sugary foods and beverages, including honey, candies, and carbonated drinks, should be consumed in moderation. Moreover, being obese or overweight raises the risk of developing a number of cancers. Chiu suggests consulting a physician or dietitian before completely eliminating sugar because a cancer patient undergoing treatment might have unique dietary needs.

Bird nests high in protein are thought to raise the risk of cancer returning. It’s thought to “nourish” cancer cells, encouraging their growth. According to Chiu, there has been very little research done on this topic, and the results are not very clear. Before any firm conclusions can be drawn, further research is required.

Many cancer patients believe the statement that sugar feeds cancer cells and should be avoided. Sugar is one of the most frequently boycotted foods, according to a 2008 study on food avoidance behavior among cancer patients funded by the international chapter of the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

Hsue claims that a lot of claims have been made about foods made with soy beans. These foods have also been linked to an increase in the growth of breast tumors, despite claims made by some that they lower the risk of ovarian, breast, prostate, and uterine cancer. According to Chiu, there isn’t enough evidence at this time to back up either claim.

What are the nests made of?

Edible bird’s nest architecture is remarkably unique, akin to a hammock made of interwoven strands. They can be white, yellow, or red.

The nests are constructed of hardened saliva regurgitated by swiftlets. They also contain feathers and other debris. Edible bird’s nests are not built from twigs or other kinds of plant material, as some people mistakenly believe (4).

Edible bird’s nests are meticulously cleaned of feathers, sand grains, and other debris with tweezers before being used in cooking (4).

Nests were collected for centuries from limestone caves in Borneo, Malaysia, especially the massive Gomantong and Niah caves.

Today, edible bird’s nests are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997. Only locals with permits can climb to the top of the caves twice a year, in February and July–September, to harvest. Unauthorized collectors may be fined and penalized (5).

Certain online communities characterize the harvesting of these nests as contentious. It is alleged that those involved in the enterprise bribe people in order to gain entry to the caves.

Today, the global market for edible bird’s nests is on the upswing, with most nests being farmed rather than collected from caves (6).

Chinese people have long used these nests as a component in soups. The Asian community still uses the soup as a nutritional supplement and cure today.

Since its consumption by emperors and other high officials in ancient China, the soup has served as a status symbol and medicinal tool. It is still regarded as one of the priciest soups in the world today.

It is made by infusing rock sugar into the bird’s nest through a double boiling process. The preparation process can last for hours (2).

The soup has a mild flavor and a texture that is a bit gummy, like egg whites. It is prepared as an entree or main course in some specialty Asian restaurants; it is occasionally served with noodles, seafood, or vegetables.

Both macronutrients and micronutrients are found in edible bird’s nests.

Carbohydrates, glycoproteins — molecules with protein and carbohydrate chains that support body functions — and trace elements like calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and iron make up the key nutrients (7).

A multitude of bioactive substances found in edible bird nests may also have health-promoting properties.

These consist of sialic acid, glucosamine, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins (7). They also include the structural components of fat called fatty acids.

Many people believe that birds’ nests are good for human health, but there isn’t enough evidence to back these claims up.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, eating bird nests can help treat conditions like asthma, TB, and stomach issues (2)

It’s also said that edible bird’s nests might improve libido, strengthen immune function, enhance energy and metabolism, and stimulate circulation. These properties have even been researched in test-tube studies (2, 8).

Nonetheless, these findings need to be confirmed with additional evidence.

Some bioactive substances that are present in edible bird’s nests seem to have the ability to prevent the flu virus (2)

Plus, three preliminary lab studies suggest that components of edible bird’s nests may be able to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells. However, the exact components showing anti-cancer properties are unknown at this time (2).

Nonetheless, further research is needed to support these findings.

The possibility of using edible bird’s nests as a medicinal supplement to treat osteoarthritis and promote bone health is also being investigated.

Although data is scarce, animal research has observed increased bone strength after daily consumption of edible bird’s nest extract (2).

According to animal research, edible bird’s nests may have brain-protective properties (9).

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, brain injury, and stroke are all linked to cognitive impairment, possibly due to inflammation in the brain (9).

One systematic review in animals showed that edible bird’s nests enhanced cognitive performance by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress (10).

Free radicals, which have the ability to cause disease, harm your body’s cells by changing their chemical structures. This is known as oxidative stress. It can lead to a cascade of adverse health effects.

However, more investigation is required before bird nests and better brain health are connected.


What is the danger of bird nest?

Birds carry pathogens that can be dangerous to the health of you and your family. Nests also contain bird droppings which can carry all sorts of bacteria and other pathogens like histoplasmosis. Nests can also contain parasites, ticks, mites, and other pests that can remain long after birds have vacated a nest.

Can you get diseases from a bird nest?

Birds, bird droppings and nesting materials can carry over 60 diseases and ectoparasites transmittable to humans and animals. Individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems such as the young, elderly and those living with auto immune diseases are the most at risk.

What are the side effects of birds nest?

Although Edible Bird’s Nest is generally safe to consume, there might be potential adverse side effects caused by allergens or poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, fever, chills, and muscle aches.

Why is birds nest illegal?

Due to the biological and behavioral characteristics of some migratory bird species, destruction of their nests entails an elevated risk of violating the MBTA.