Part 1: Anti-cancer properties

You are likely familiar with the well-established health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. You also probably know that a key component of the diet’s nutritional punch comes from its liberal use of extra virgin olive oil. What you may not be familiar with is how olive oil can work with the body to fight against cancer as we age.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about olive oil’s impressive anti-cancer properties. The various polyphenols found in high-quality extra virgin olive oil have anti-tumor and immuno-modulator activities. This means olive oil can bolster the body’s anti-cancer efforts in two general ways. First, by supporting better immune system functioning through an increase in white blood cells (some of which are cancer-killing cells), and second, by directly inhibiting certain cancer cells.

Studies have shown particular efficacy of these compounds in mitigating the proliferation of specific types of cancer cells, namely those of malignant pancreatic, breast, mesothelioma, and prostate cancers. The reasons for these effects are multifaceted and complex, but one of the simpler phenomena is that the polyphenols in olive oil slow and prevent certain age-related cell behaviors. As many cancers are a result of ageing, this prevention of certain aspects of cellular changes can make a meaningful difference in cancer cell activity. In sum, the current research supports the idea that the active compounds unique to extra virgin olive oil merit further study to pursue possible chemotherapeutic uses.

It is known that the higher quality the oil, the higher concentrations of polyphenols. You’ll know you’re tasting such an oil by the characteristic “tingly burn” at the back of the throat, for which those cancer-busting polyphenols are responsible. Does your olive oil give you tingles? It should!

If you’d like to explore the medical research a bit more for yourself, you can use the link below as a starting point. Stay tuned the next blog post in this series, which will be a summary of the benefits of olive oil in preventing cardiovascular disease.

“Let they food be thy medicine and they medicine by thy food” – Hippocrates

From the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. May 31, 2016. Published online by the US National Library of Medicine. Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans

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