Olive Oil Fights Breast Cancer
Extra-virgin olive oil lowers the risk of developing breast cancer in those who carry a particular gene involved in about 20 to 30 percent of breast cancers.
Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain wondered why a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil appeared to lower breast cancer risk in some studies but not in others. They theorized that the answer could depend on the type of cancer. Their research found that two chemicals in olive oil — lignans and secoiridoids — block the HER2 protein that causes breast cancer tumors to grow more rapidly than other forms of the disease.
“Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells,” wrote study authors Javier Menéndez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada.
Extra-virgin olive oil is derived from pressing olives without heat or chemicals.
Even though a diet rich in extra-virgin olive oil might contribute to a lowering of breast cancer risk, researchers believe their study may lead to the development of drugs based on the cancer-fighting chemicals.
“These findings, together 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, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs,” wrote Menéndez and Segura-Carretero.
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