HomeLibraryNatural FoodsSugars / Fats / Oils
Study Finds How Olive Oil Helps Breast Cell Health

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, July 18, 2010, abstracted from “Dietary olive oil and corn oil differentially affect experimental breast cancer through distinct modulation of the p21Ras signaling and the proliferation-apoptosis balance” in Carcinogenesis, 2010; 31 (5).

Keywords: Breast cancer, olive oil

Breast cancer is the second biggest cancer killer of American women after lung cancer, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 40,580 women in 2004 (1) and contributing significantly to cancer's overall cost to society of $219 billion per year (2). Fortunately, there are a number of natural ways to help with breast cell health. These include resveratrol (3), kelp (4), vitamin E (5), black cohosh (6), soy (7), curcumin (8), folic acid (9), lignans (studies in 2006 (10) and 2007 (11)), green tea (12), fiber (13), and vitamin D (14).

Now a new study in mice (15) may have discovered the mechanism by which olive oil can help maintain breast cell health. In the study, researchers found that 20 mice with breast cancer fed a diet comprising 17% extra virgin olive oil by weight (compared to 20 mice fed a control diet of 3% corn oil by weight) had a 57% decrease in activity of a protein called Ras, known to be involved in breast cancer (16). They also had a 25% increase in a “natural cell death” process called apoptosis as well as 33% lower levels of a protein called PCNA, indicative of decreased DNA damage compared to placebo (17).

For the researchers, “The present study shows that the [extra virgin olive oil] diet…decreases Ras activity…in favor of apoptosis.”

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


1. "2004/2005 Fact Sheet Cancer Registries: The Foundation for Cancer Prevention and Control" posted on the CDC website www.cdc.gov/cancer/npcr
2. “Costs of Cancer” posted on www.cancer.org/docroot/MIT/content/MIT_3_2X_Costs_of_Cancer.asp
3. Tang FY. Resveratrol inhibits heregulin-â1-mediated matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression and cell invasion in human breast cancer cells. Jou Nutr Biochem 2007. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 24 July 2007
4. Skibola CF. Brown kelp modulates endocrine hormones in female sprague-dawley rats and in human luteinized granulosa cells. J Nutr 2005; 135(2): 296-300
5. Dorigochoo T. Vitamin supplement use and risk for breast cancer: the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study. Breast Cancer Res Treatment 2007. Printed online DOI 10.1007/s10549-007-9772-8
6. Einbond LS. Growth inhibitory activity of extracts and compounds from Cimicifuga species on human breast cancer cells. Phytomedicine 2007. In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 5 November 2007
7. Lampe JW. Plasma Isoflavones and Fibrocystic Breast Conditions and Breast Cancer Among Women in Shanghai, China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2007 16: 2579-2586 doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0368
8. Rattanamongkolgul, S., K. Muir, et al. (2002). "Diet, energy intake and breast cancer risk in an Asian country." IARC Sci Publ 156: 543-5
9. Maruti SS. Folate and one-carbon metabolism nutrients from supplements and diet in relation to breast cancer risk Am J Clin Nutr 2009 89: 624-633. First published online February 1, 2009; doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.26568
10. Piller R. Plasma enterolactone and genistein and the risk of premenopausal breast cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2006 Jun;15(3):225-32
11. Touillaud MS. Dietary Lignan Intake and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk by Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Status. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 2007 99: 475-486; doi:10.1093/jnci/djk096
12. Shrubsole M. Drinking Green Tea Modestly Reduces Breast Cancer Risk J. Nutr. 2009 139: 310-316.
13. Park Y. Dietary fiber intake and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women: the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study. Published July 22, 2009; doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27758
14. Prognostic Effects of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Early Breast Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 27, No 23 (August 10), 2009: pp. 3757-3763
15. Solanas M. Dietary olive oil and corn oil differentially affect experimental breast cancer through distinct modulation of the p21Ras signaling and the proliferation-apoptosis balance. Carcinogenesis, 2010; 31 (5): 871-879.
16. Eckert LB Involvement of Ras Activation in Human Breast Cancer Cell Signaling, Invasion, and Anoikisb. Cancer Res 2004;64;4585.
17. Malkas LH. A cancer-associated PCNA expressed in breast cancer has implications as a potential biomarker. PNAS 2006; 103(51): 19472-19477