Numerous research studies have suggested that a Mediterranean style diet has many health benefits, including for heart health and breast cancer. Olives and olive oil are important parts of a Mediterranean style diet. In fact, some research has suggested that olives and olive oil provide some of the most active nutrients and antioxidants found in the Mediterranean diet. However, the ways by which olive oil might support health and reduce breast cancer risk remain unclear.
New breast cancer research published in the May issue of Carcinogenesis examined the effect of dietary extra virgin olive oil on rats given breast cancer. For this study, rats were treated with a chemical known to cause breast cancer formation and then placed on one of three diets: (1) a diet high in extra virgin olive oil, (2) a diet high in corn oil, and (3) a control diet. Analysis of cellular changes in the rats fed these diets showed, among other changes, that
The diet high in extra virgin olive oil suppressed a specific cancer gene and it's pathway of activation, while the high corn oil diet did not.
Extra virgin olive oil consumption increased programmed cell death and decreased a marker of DNA damage.
Breast cancer tumors were less aggressive in rats fed extra virgin olive oil, while rats fed high amounts of corn oil had more aggressive breast cancer tumors.
This is fascinating research that provides important insight into the ways olive oil can support human health and reduce breast cancer risk. In regards to breast cancer, this study suggests that dietary consumption of olive oil might protect against breast cancer by causing increased cell death and protecting cells from DNA damage, which can lead to breast cancer development. In general, this study also continues to show the importance of making healthy diet choices for breast cancer protection and overall well being. Olive oil can be found in several grades ranging from pure or refined olive oil to extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is reportedly the least processed and contains higher levels of antioxidants, making it an excellent dietary choice.