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Olive Oil Activates Protective Signals in Cells that Thwart Breast Cancer

2010-06-30 21:58

Researchers have been studying how olive oil protects women from breast cancer. Findings from scientists now show that consuming olive oil starts a cascade of signals in cells that provide protection from breast cancer spread while slowing tumor growth.

Scientists found that when breast tumors develop, olive oil decreases the activity of the p21Ras oncogene frequently found in breast cancer. An oncogene is a mutated gene that leads to cancer. The beneficial oil that is rich in antioxidants, mono-unsaturated fatty acid and oleic acid also changes the protein signaling pathway in the cells stimulates tumor death and prevents DNA damage to thwart breast cancer.

Some fats promote cancer, found in mice given a high fat diet, leading the researchers to study what happens inside tumor cells. The researchers compared corn oil to olive oil finding the breast cancer protective properties of olive oil.

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The protein AKT that prevents tumor cells from dying was suppressed with olive oil. Combined with decreased activity of the p21Ras oncogene, olive oil slows breast cancer tumor growth. The third finding was that animals fed olive oil had less DNA damage compared to the group given the corn oil control diet.

Scientists from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) have been studying the effects of fat on breast cancer for over twenty years, especially olive oil that is consumed as part of a Mediterranean diet.

The researchers have discovered how olive oil protects from breast cancer by sending out a series of signals in tumor cells that lead to tumor death and prevent tumors from spreading. The findings add to past evidence that olive oil protects from breast cancer while other types of fat affect genes in a way that promotes cancer.

Carcinogenesis 2010 31(5):871-879; doi:10.1093/carcin/bgp243