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Olive Oil Found to Help with Breast Cell Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, January 4, 2009, abstracted from “Anti-HER2 (erbB-2) oncogene effects of phenolic compounds directly isolated from commercial Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)” in the December 2008 issue of BMC Cancer

Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the core foods of the Mediterranean Diet. It has been found to benefit mental health (1) blood sugar health (2) and weight management (3). It also helps keep our DNA healthy (4), protects our cells from damage (5), and helps keep our blood pressure in normal range (6). These health benefits are due in part to polyphenols (7), specifically Tyrosol, the major compound in olive oil. (8)

Now a new lab study (9) has found that Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) may now benefit breast cell health. Breast cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of American women after lung cancer, causing an estimated 40,580 deaths in 2004 (10) and contributing significantly to cancer’s overall cost to society of $219 billion per year (11).

In the study, researchers took between 6 and 100 micromoles of EVOO polyphenols and exposed them to breast cancer cells lines called MCF-7 and SKBR3. These contain a damage protein called HER-2, known to cause about one in three breast cancers as well as other types of cancer (12). The researchers found that EVOO was able to initiate a process of natural cell death called “apoptosis” in breast cancer cells with the HER-2 protein. Compared to controls, 100 micromoles of EVOO polyphenols reduced HER-2 activity by nearly 88%.

The drawback of the study is that the amount of polyphenols used in the study that produced the effects on the HER-2 protein “are unlikely to be achieved” through everyday olive oil use”. However, “this study might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti-breast cancer drugs.”

But a type of antioxidant in EVOO called lignans that helped alter HER-2 activity can be achieved through food supplementation, specifically 25 grams of flaxseed. The researcher cited a study showing that 25 grams of flaxseed resulted in “a 71% reduction in HER2 expression and a 30.7% increase in apoptosis” (13).

For the researchers, “We report for the first time that all the fractions containing the major EVOO [antixoidants] can efficiently inhibit HER2 protein activity.”

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com

Reference:
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10. "2004/2005 Fact Sheet Cancer Registries: The Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Control" posted on the CDC website www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr
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12. “HER-2 Positive Breast Cancer: What Is It?” posted on www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer/AN00495
13. Thompson LU, Chen JM, Strasser-Weippl K, Goss PE: Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clin Cancer Res 2005, 11: 3828-3835.