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Olive oil delays cancer process

Consuming olive oil the daily diet might help to prevent damage to body cells that can eventually lead to cancer.

Olive oil delays cancer process

Consuming olive oil in the daily diet might help to prevent damage to body cells that could have eventually lead to cancer. Researchers from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark analysed 182 European men, and found that olive oil can reduce oxidative damage to cells' genetic material, a process that can initiate cancer development. The study included healthy men aged between 20 and 60 years from five European countries. For two weeks, the men consumed a quarter cup of olive oil throughout each day. At the end of the study, they showed an average 13 percent reduction in a marker of oxidative damage to cells' DNA. Such damage occurs when byproducts of metabolism called reactive oxygen species overwhelm the body's antioxidant defences. Olive oil contains a number of compounds, called phenols, believed to act as powerful antioxidants. However, those compounds didn't seem to account for the drop in DNA oxidative damage. The men in the study used three different olive oils with varying levels of antioxidant phenols, and oxidative damage declined regardless of the phenol content. Instead, the researchers suspect that the monounsaturated fats in olive oil are behind the effect. At the beginning of the study, men from Northern Europe had higher levels of the marker of oxidative damage than those from Southern Europe. This is consistent, with the expected effects of the olive-oil-rich Mediterranean diet. However, the dietary difference is more than just olive oil. Ideally, it's also rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. The findings suggest that olive oil may be part of the reason that certain cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers, are less common in Mediterranean countries than in Northern Europe. However, regardless of the benefits of olive oil, there is no substitute for calorie control and regular exercise.
The FASEB Journal,
December 2006
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