Olive oil as cancer prevention? Scientists say maybe

There is a common saying that olive oil goes with everything and makes everything taste better. That remains to be proved, but olive oil is a remarkable thing. Scientists from The University of Edinburgh conducted a study, which revealed an unexpected benefit of consuming olive oil – it might actually help preventing brain cancer.

Oleic acid is what olive oil is mostly made of, and, as first experiments reveal, has a potential of helping to prevent brain cancer. Image credit: Dina Said via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

Protecting our brain is extremely important for us. We define ourselves through our intelligence and the thought we put out is the way we communicate and guide ourselves through life. In this case brain cancer is extremely threatening, even though it is not one of the most common types of cancer. Scientists now conducted a research into oleic acid, which is what olive oil is made of, and found that it can help preventing cancer-causing genes from functioning in cells. Of course, now it is too early to say if our normal consumption of olive oil helps preventing brain cancer (it might be that the ways we consume oil do not bring this benefit), but the substance seems to be helpful.

Oleic acid is one of the main ingredients of olive oil. Scientists say that it stimulates the production of a cell molecule whose function is to prevent cancer-causing proteins from forming and thus could potentially be used as a new therapy. The molecule in question, called miR-7, is active in the brain and is known to suppress the formation of tumours. But there is another molecule, known as MSI2, which is trying to supress miR-7 from acting. And so, the real benefit of oleic acid is that it can prevent MSI2 from stopping production of miR-7.

Scientists already performed some tests on human brain cells in the lab. Dr Gracjan Michlewski, one of the authors of the study, said: “While we cannot yet say that olive oil in the diet helps prevent brain cancer, our findings do suggest that oleic acid can support the production of tumour-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab. Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health.” And so, while scientists are still working on the subject, it remains unclear if olive oil does help preventing tumours in the brain. However, these first steps show that it probably does.

That the thing with science – every research takes tiny steps towards the ultimate goal. Not it seems like oleic acid does help preventing tumours from forming in the brain, but our ways of consuming olive oil may negate this effect. For example, using it for cooking might not be as good as consuming it raw with salad or cheese. Good that olive oil does go with everything.


Source: The University of Edinburgh

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