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Olive Oil May Prevent Breast Cancer

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil When standing at the supermarket, you may often feel rather overwhelmed with choice as to which type of vegetable oils are best to buy. 

Researchers from the University of Granada, Spain, have conducted a study that shows how olive oil may be an active ingredient in fighting cancerous cells. In the research, two chemicals made by the olive plant, which is also present in olive oil, were identified to be blocking the protein involved in some breast cancers.

The protein Her2 is found in around one fifth of breast cancer tumors, and has been linked to increased and faster-paced growth compared to other forms of cancer. Drugs such as Herceptin had been developed to work against these cancers, as well as attempt to prevent their reoccurrence.   

The academic journal BioMed Central has also published an article that identifies chemicals called lignans and secoiridoids that work in a similar way to Herceptin. The findings show that the cancer gene Her2 is “drastically suppressed” by the complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil, explained researchers Javier Menéndez, from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carrertero from the University of Granada.

Extra-virgin oil differs from regular olive through the processes of the initial pressing. Extra-virgin olive oil is created without heating or chemical treatments, thus the phytochemicals are not destroyed in the refining process.

Menéndez and Segura-Carrertero’s research isolated the chemicals from extra-virgin olive oil, lignans and secoiridoids, and observed the reactions when placed with breast cancer cells in a lab environment.

The findings have provided new insight into the benefits of polyphenol-rich extra-virgin olive oil. The findings are in conjunction with the fact that humans “have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil,” said Menéndez and Segura-Carrertero.

The findings are also supportive of previous research concerning a Mediterranean-style diet and anti-cancer methods, or reduction of risks of tumor regrowth. Dr Joanna Owens, Senior cancer Information Officer from Cancer Research UK, commented that this form of diet is especially effective as it includes “cutting down on saturated fats often found in chocolate, crisps and cakes” and instead favors “monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil.”

Although the research concerning olive oil was conducted in a lab environment and has not yet been linked with human diet evidence, Dr Owens is supportive of the idea of further research into olive oil and its benefits. “The potential of plant chemicals is an exciting area of research.”

The important point to note is that the chemicals found in the olive plant and thus in the oil are only retained as long as the oil has not yet been exposed to heat or other chemicals. Thus consumers must be aware to purchase extra-virgin olive oil, which has not been exposed to heat. This also means that extra-virgin olive oil is not suitable for high-heat cooking, either. So don’t throw a bag of chips into the fryer with extra-virgin olive thinking that it will provide you with any health benefits at all.

The oil itself is very tasty as it is, and often preferably used in salad dressings, or as a dip with bread, as that way it does not have to be exposed to high temperatures.

Health News Story By Nicole Chiu – Contributing Health Journalist

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  3. Low Fat Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Relapse in Women, Study Suggests
  4. Yoga Provides Benefits To Women With Breast Cancer, Study Concludes
  5. Study: Breast Cancer Risk Increases with Each Drink among Women
  


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