In contrast to other vegetable oils, it now appears that virgin olive oil protects the body against breast cancer. Researchers at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, led by Dr Eduard Escrich, have discovered a key mechanism by which this oil works against tumors.
While these studies have been carried out in an experimental model, researchers at UAB are now beginning a new study with human cell lines. In the recently concluded experimental study, the UAB researchers decoded a complete cascade of signals within breast tumor cells activated by virgin olive oil. They concluded that benefits include a decrease in the activity of the oncogene, changes in the protein signaling pathways, prevention of DNA damage and even stimulated the death of tumor cells.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Western countries. Research carried out with animal models demonstrate that a diet rich in fats is directly related to the incidence of cancer. Some types of fats however can play a protective role against the development of these tumors. Such is the case with virgin olive oil, rich in oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, and one that contains several bioactive compounds such as antioxidants. A moderate and regular intake of virgin olive oil, characteristic of the Mediterranean diet, is associated with low incidences of specific types of cancer, including breast cancer, as well as with having a protective role against coronary diseases and other health problems.
This is quite interesting because in comparison to those mechanisms activated by corn oil, rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, the olive oil actually slows the tumor progression, while corn oil (which we use so much of in the USA) actually increases the aggressiveness of such tumors.