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Can Olive Oil Prevent Breast Cancer?

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Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the top killers of women today. This type of cancer, which comes from breast cells and in the inner lining of milk ducts or lobules, can spread out into the other areas of the body when malignant. It is an invasive type of cancer and account for about 16 percent of female cancers; about 18 percent of all cancer deaths around the world are attributed to this disease. It is much prevalent in developed nations than in underdeveloped ones, and its risk factors include age, genetics, family history, estrogen exposure, obesity, exposure to radiation and certain jobs. This is why a lot of treatment regimens are currently being discovered and developed for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer and Olive Oil

A recent study will be studying the effects of hydroxytyrosol, which is a major component of olive oil, soon on women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. This study, to be undertaken by Houston Methodist researchers will soon focus on the changes in breast density after one year of treatment with olive oil. This study is considered the first of its kind in the United States and will be studying the effects of olive oil on 50 premenopausal and 50 postmenopausal women.  This is based on the fact that olive oil has a lot of health benefits such as lowering the risk for stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.

The subjects of this study will be made to take one capsule a day containing 25 mg of hydroxytyrosol for one year. Every three months, the subjects will be assessed for side effects and other significant findings. The researchers noted hydroxytyrosol has been studied before in both human and animal studies and has been proven to be one of the world's most powerful antioxidants. It is said to have low toxicity even at high doses.

Olive oil has long been studied over the centuries, from its beginning in the Mediterranean countries. Olive oil has long been used to heal inflammatory diseases due to its anti-inflammatory activities due to its ability to lower inflammatory markers such as thromboxane A2 and leukotrienes. Through the years, olive oil was also known to lower the risk for heart diseases, due to the presence of polyphenols such as hydroxytyrosol (HT), which can protect the cells of the blood vessels from damage caused by reactive oxygen species.

Other studies have also elucidated the fact that olive oil can also reduce the risks for cancer, especially those cancers belonging to the digestive tract, respiratory tract and breast. This is by virtue of its polyphenols such as simple phenols, terpenes, flavones, hydroxycinnamic acids, anthocyanidins, flavonols, flavonoid glycosides, lignans and hydroxybenzoic acids. Aside from lowering inflammatory markers, these polyphenols can also lower C-reactive protein levels in the blood and activity of the arachidonic acid pathway which is responsible for inflammatory processes.

The polyphenols in olive oil may act as antioxidants by preventing damage to cells by reactive oxygen species. These substances improve the cell membrane function of cells and lower the risk of cancer development and altered gene expression; at the same time these substances strengthen the antioxidant defense system of the body. Some previous studies have mentioned that olive oil and its components may confer protection against DNA damage from oxygen reactive species. This is especially important in cancer development. Still, in other studies, olive oil and its components have the ability to localize cancer cells so that they cannot spread to other parts of the body. In breast cancer studies, secoiridoids in olive oil keeps breast cells from reproducing further. Hydroxytyrosol in olive oil is said to enhance programmed cell death or apoptosis in cancer cells.

If you want to learn more about breast cancer and its treatment and prevention, you can check out our other articles on this site.