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Olive Oil May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
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Look for fish canned, like ours, in organic extra virgin olive oil

by Randy Hartnell

Scientists have long known that the so-called “Mediterranean diet”—high in vegetables, seafood, and olive oil, but low in red meats—protects against breast cancer.

The key seems to be oleic acid: the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid that predominates in olive oil.

Now we’re especially glad we took the unusual step of packing our canned tuna and new sardines in certified-organic extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil works like breast-cancer drug

In lab tests, researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University School of Medicine found that oleic acid cuts the levels of a breast cancer-promoting gene (Her-2/ neu) by up to 46 per cent.

High levels of this gene are found in a fifth of all breast cancers and are particularly active in cancers that are resistant to treatment.  Some breast-cancer drugs, such as Herceptin, also work by targeting this gene.

As lead researcher Dr. Javier Menendez said: “Our findings underpin epidemiological studies that show that the Mediterranean diet has significant protective effects against cancer, heart disease and ageing.”


  • Menendez JA, Vellon L, Colomer R, Lupu R. Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, suppresses Her-2/neu (erbB-2) expression and synergistically enhances the growth inhibitory effects of trastuzumab (HerceptinTM) in breast cancer cells with Her-2/neu oncogene amplification. Ann Oncol. 2005 Jan 10; [Epub ahead of print].
  • Kushi L, Giovannucci E. Dietary fat and cancer. Am J Med. 2002 Dec 30;113 Suppl 9B:63S-70S. Review.
  • Alarcon de la Lastra C, Barranco MD, Motilva V, Herrerias JM. Mediterranean diet and health: biological importance of olive oil. Curr Pharm Des. 2001 Jul;7(10):933-50. Review.
  • Trichopoulou A, Lagiou P, Kuper H, Trichopoulos D. Cancer and Mediterranean dietary traditions. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Sep;9(9):869-73. Review.

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