Olive Oil and Cancer

OLIVE OIL AND CANCER
Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumours (breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract, …).
A number of research studies have documented that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could considerably lower cancer incidence. The reason is that the cell mutations caused by cancer are partly due to toxins which, when consumed through the diet, attack DNA. On passing through the liver, these toxins produce free radicals that then attack DNA. To combat such free radicals, the body needs vitamins and antioxidants like those contained in olive oil.
It has also been reported that an olive-oil-rich diet is associated with reduced risk of bowel cancer. The protective effect of olive oil is irrespective of the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten in the diet.
Recent studies have demonstrated that olive oil provides protection against cancer of the colon. Lately, research has been looking into the metabolic implications of fats, more specifically the protective role of olive oil in chronic liver disease and in the disorder of the intestines known as Crohn’s disease. Results point to beneficial effects of olive oil on pre-cancerous lesions. After analysing three types of diet, research scientists arrived at various conclusions. The olive oil diet reduced the number of cancerous lesions; the number of tumours that developed was clearly and significantly low; and the tumours were less aggressive and had a better prognosis.
This beneficial effect could be related to oleic acid, the predominant monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil. It has been observed that this fatty acid lowers the production of prostaglandins derived from arachidonic acid, which in turn plays a significant part in the production and development of tumours.
However, it is not excluded that other constituents of olive oil, such as antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols and squalene may also have a positive influence. Squalene is believed to have a favourable effect on the skin by reducing the incidence of melanomas.
Olive oil also adds to the taste of vegetables and pulses whose benefits in cancer prevention have been amply proved.
Some very promising, current research is centred on the protection provided by olive oil against child leukaemia and various cancers, such as oesophageal squamous cell cancer.
Much has still to be discovered about how olive oil affects cancer and concrete data are still lacking on the mechanisms behind the beneficial role it plays in the prevention or inhibitionof the growth of different types of cancer. However, according to the information available at present, olive oil could actsimultaneously during the different stages involved in the process of cancer formation.

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Mediterranean Diet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil May Protect from Diabetes

In the latest trial of the ongoing intervention study PREDIMED, Spanish researchers found that following a Mediterranean diet may cut the risk of diabetes by about 30 percnt compared to the control diet, which was characterized as a low fat diet.

The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved 3,541 men and women who were a subgroup of the larger PREDIMED study that enrolled over 7,000 participants from seven communities in Spain since 2003. The men and women for this particular trial were between 55 and 80 years of age and at high risk for heart disease, but without diabetes.

As is standard with the PREDIMED study, the participants were assigned to one of three diets: Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, or a control diet (participants were advised to follow a low fat diet). The participants were not asked to exercise or lose weight.

At follow up which was on average 4.1 years, 101 individuals from the control group developed diabetes, while only 80 individuals from the olive oil Mediterranean diet group developed the disease. The researchers noted that adherence was much higher in the Mediterranean diet groups and concluded that a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil without caloric limitations may reduce diabetes risk in individuals with a high heart disease risk.

This is not the first time that the Mediterranean diet has been found to have a preventative effect against diabetes. In 2011 a smaller trial (418 participants) of the PREDIMED study showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet.

By ELENA PARAVANTES on January 8, 2014

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Italian Olive Oil Producer on FDA ‘Red List’ is Costco Supplier

The detection of pesticide traces stranded 98 shipping containers in the ports of New York and Seattle belonging to Certified Origins, the group of 30,000 Italian olive growers that produce olive oil for Costco’s Kirkland’s Best brand and Bellucci Premium.

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Mediterranean Diet in Midlife Results in Better Quality of Life in Old Age

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that women who followed a Mediterranean style diet in midlife, were more likely at old age to be without any major limitations in physical and mental health.

Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital of the Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health and the French National Institute of Health followed 10,670 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-term epidemiological study that started in 1976 and has followed over 230,000 registered nurses to assess risk factors for cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.

The researchers gathered dietary data from these women when they were in their late 50’s and 60’s and then again 15 years later, the participants provided information about their health. Their diet quality was assessed using two questionnaires: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index and the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score.

The results of their analysis showed that women who had a high adherence to a Mediterranean style diet as measured by the Alternate Mediterranean score had a 46% greater chances of healthy aging which was defined as 70 years or older with no major chronic diseases and no major impairment in cognitive and mental health.

Women who had greater adherence to a “Healthy Diet” as measured by the Alternative Healthy Eating Index only had 34 percent great chance of healthy aging. In other words, the Mediterranean style diet was more effective.

Sources:

Ann Intern Med: Samieri C. et. al. The Association Between Dietary Patterns at Midlife and Health in Aging: An Observational Study
The Nurses’ Health Study

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Mediterranean Diet Good for the Brain

Several studies have pointed to the Mediterranean diet as having a protective effect against decline of cognitive function that often comes with aging, however, until just recently, there was no systematic review of the research.
A group of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analyzed twelve studies that examined the relationship between cognitive function and the Mediterranean diet. The review published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology, showed that in nine out of the twelve studies, higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Previous studies have shown that the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants such as olive oil, fruit, vegetables and nuts are associated with better cognitive performance. This effect is seen with a Mediterranean diet pattern as a whole, but also for specific foods independently. For example walnuts have been found to be associated with better working memory and olive oil with immediate verbal memory.
The researchers of this particular review noted that while observational studies provide suggestive evidence, randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm whether or not adherence to a Mediterranean diet protects against dementia.
By Elena Paravantes
Olive Oil Times Health Editor | Reporting from Athens

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Olive Oil Beneficial for Elderly

Spanish researchers evaluated the effect of adding olive oil to the diets of healthy elderly. The results showed that extra virgin olive oil reduced total cholesterol, but also increased HDL levels also known as the good
The study, published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics included 62 participants aged 65-96 years. They were divided into two groups; the control group maintained their current diet, while the olive group consumed EVOO as the only added fat and a daily dose of 50 ml, which corresponds to about three tablespoons.
After six weeks the researchers found a significant reduction of total cholesterol, but also an increase in the HDL (the “good” cholesterol). In addition, the olive group had a higher plasma Total Antioxidant Capacity compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that nutritional intervention with EVOO improves the antioxidant status in healthy elderly people.
These findings that olive oil can improve antioxidant status as well as lipid profile in the elderly adds to recent research that is pointing to the Mediterranean diet as the ideal diet for the elderly. Three new studies have shown that a Mediterranean style diet can positively affect several side effects of aging.
Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago concluded after following over 3,500 men for 7 years, that the annual rate of developing depressive symptoms was 98.6 percent lower among persons in the highest tertile of a Mediterranean-based dietary pattern compared with persons in the lowest tertile group.
Another new study published in Neurology which used information from over 17,000 individuals over the age of 45, concluded that closer adherence to a Mediterranean style diet resulted in a lower risk of memory loss, while a third study by Spanish researchers showed it improves vascular dysfunction and can play a role in the protection against the chronic diseases related to aging.

Elena Paravantes / Olive Oil Times Health Editor

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Modified Mediterranean Diet May Protect from Diabetes

A new study published in the journal Diabetologia suggests that a Mediterranean diet that is low in certain carbohydrates can protect from diabetes.

Researchers from Italy, Greece, U.S. and Canada analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a study that investigates the relationships between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases, with participants in over 10 European countries.

The researchers assessed information from over 22,000 Greek participants who were followed for an average of eleven years. Scientists measured adherence to the Mediterranean diet and glycemic load (GL). Glycemic load is a measurement of the amount of carbohydrate in a food and its impact on blood sugar levels. Foods such as vegetables, fats (such as olive oil), high fiber fruit and beans have low glycemic loads while processed foods, such as white bread, cakes, processed breakfast cereals have a high glycemic load.
The results showed that independently a Mediterranean diet reduced the incidence of diabetes. When coupled with a low glycemic load, the protection was greater, reaching 20 percent less risk compared to those who had a low compliance to the Mediterranean diet and high glycemic load diet.
As the researchers note, it is not difficult to envision a low glycemic load Mediterranean diet, as the diet is dominated by vegetables, olive oil, beans and fruit. The model of the Greek-Mediterranean diet that these participants were most likely following, would be rich in vegetable main course dishes, consisting of vegetables cooked in olive oil resulting a moderate calorie dish with a low glycemic load score. One could modify the diet to contain fewer carbohydrates by reducing bread or pasta to achieve a lower glycemic load, while maintaining the basic components of the Mediterranean diet.

Elena Paravantes / Olive Oil Times Health Editor

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Olive Polyphenols May Affect Learning and Memory

New research conducted by the Institute of Cellular Biology and Neurobiology in Rome, showed that olive polyphenols may affect certain proteins in the brain that are involved in memory, learning and thinking.
For this study published in the journal Nutrition, the researchers provided mice with an olive extract that contained olive polyphenols. This olive extract was obtained from olive pomace, the remains of the olives after the oil has been extracted.
After 10 days they measured levels of Nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which are neurotrophins.
Neurotrophins are proteins that are involved in the proper functioning and development of neurons. According to the researchers NGF and BDNF play key roles in brain cell development, growth, and survival.
The researchers found elevated levels of NGF and BDNF in the hippocampus and olfactory bulbs compared to the control group. The researchers concluded that olive polyphenols in mice may increase the levels of NGF and BDNF in crucial areas, which play a key role in learning and memory processes.

By Elena Paravantes
Olive Oil Times Health Editor

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About Polyphenols by Nancy Ash

The hallmarks of extra virgin flavor in olive oil are its olive fruit aroma, bitterness and pungency, all of which reflect the flavor of olives freshly picked from the tree. All extra virgin olive oils contain these three attributes; the best oils display a harmony of balance among these characteristics.
Bitterness and pungency (often described as pepperiness) are indicative of the concentration of phenolic compounds (polyphenols) that are naturally found in extra virgin olive oil. Polyphenols act as antioxidants that inhibit the degradation or oxidation of olive oil. (Note that exposure to light and heat increase the rate that oils will oxidize.)
Some olive varieties are naturally higher in polyphenols than others. The timing of the harvest is also an influence as unripe (green) olives result in a higher concentration of polyphenols than ripe olives.
The polyphenol levels in all olive oils decrease over time; this is related to what many describe as the “softening” of an oil’s flavor over time.
Extra virgin olive oil is primarily unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), which promote heart health. Increased levels of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oils make the oil even more beneficial.
Always look for the harvest date when making your olive oil selection; the closer it is to the harvest date, the higher the level of polyphenols/antioxidants will be.

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Replacing Some Carbs with Olive Oil Can Slow Prostate Cancer

The consumption of olive oil has long been associated with reduced incidence of cancer. Large observational and epidemiological studies have showed that using olive oil instead of saturated fats, such as butter, is associated with lower odds of any type of cancer, including prostate cancer.

However a recent study revealed that replacing some carbohydrates with vegetable fats, such as those found in olive oil, can actually halt the progression of prostate cancer after diagnosis.

The researchers followed 4,577 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer, part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Started in 1986, the purpose of HPFS is to evaluate a series of hypotheses about men’s health, relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious illnesses.

The results of their analysis, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, showed that men who consumed more vegetable fat after diagnosis had a lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.

Replacing 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates with vegetable fats was associated with a 29 percent drop in the risk of lethal prostate cancer. Erin Richman head of the study, said that the benefit was really when you were replacing refined carbohydrates with foods like olive oil and nuts.

While this study showed it is not necessary to cut down on fat with a cancer diagnosis, it is important to choose the right type of fat. Olive oil provides the good monounsaturated fat but, as previous research has shown, it is also a source of antioxidants, which many researchers believe are responsible for its protective effect.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in this group of men with prostate cancer, adding another reason to use good fats and adding further support for a heart-healthy, Mediterranean-style diet for this population.

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How Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Protect from Alzheimer’s Disease

Olive oil has been associated with protection against cognitive decline that comes with aging, and studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and that the monounsaturated fat in olive oil was mainly responsible for this effect.

Now studies are now showing that it is in fact oleocanthal, a natural compound found in extra virgin olive oil that has antioxidant and antinflammatory action that may have the protective effect.

In Alzheimer’s disease, it is believed that damage to the brain starts when deposits of beta-amyloid protein (Aβ) form plaques in the brain eventually disrupting nerve cell function and leading to the death of these neurons.

In this new study, researchers from the University of Louisiana examined the effect of oleocanthal on the abnormal protein.

By looking at the action of oleocanthal in cultured cells, but also the brains of laboratory animals they found that this olive oil phenol was promoting the production of two other proteins that are believed to play an important role in removing Aβ from the brain.

In their study that was published in Chemical Neuroscience, the researchers concluded that extra-virgin olive oil-derived oleocanthal associated with the consumption of Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease or related neurodegenerative dementias.

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