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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Olive Oil: The New Cancer Weapon

January 5, 2009

Extra-virgin olive oil is a staple in Italian cooking, and it may also have a medicinal benefit in the fight against cancer. 

Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and the University of Granada in Spain found good quality extra-virgin olive oil contains chemicals called photochemical polyphenols that are capable of triggering cancer cell death.

“Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells,” study coauthor Javier Menendez was quoted as saying.

Researchers separated the oil into fractions and tested them against breast cancer cells in lab experiments. All the fractions containing extra-virgin photochemical polyphenols (lignans and secoirdoids) were found to effectively inhibit HER2.

Study authors concluded these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti-breast cancer drugs.

SOURCE: BMC Cancer, 2008;8:377

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