Olive oil ingredient stops brain cancer in lab test

To the list of excellent reasons to use olive oil, we can add this one: it may be an effective preventative against brain cancer.

We already know olive oil is well worth adding to your diet for better heart health. It’s been shown to decrease arterial inflammation, lower blood pressure and contribute to weight loss when part of a Mediterranean-style diet. Previous studies have also shown potential for broader disease prevention, but the latest study went a step further in showing how oleic acid, olive oil’s main monounsaturated fatty acid, stops cancer-causing protein activity in brain cells.

Researchers found that the fatty acid inhibits the activity of a cell protein called Musashi homolog2, which in turn prevents the protein from stopping the production of a microRNA called miR-7 that suppresses brain tumor formation. In other words, oleic acid empowers miR-7 to do its job of preventing tumors by thwarting its nemesis protein, Musashi homolog2.

That’s the good news. The less good news is we still don’t know if dietary intake of olive oil provides this benefit. The claim may very well be proven out eventually, but testing it was beyond the bounds of this study. What this study does do, however, is provide the lab-tested basis for taking the necessary next steps to find out.

Quoting lead researcher Dr. Gracjan Michlewski, “While we cannot yet say that olive oil in the diet helps prevent brain cancer, our findings do suggest that oleic acid can support the production of tumor-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab. Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health.”

80,000 cases of brain cancer are diagnosed every year in the U.S., and one third of those cases involve malignant tumors. Nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. are living with a primary brain and central nervous system tumor, according to the American Brain Tumor Foundation. Brain cancer is also the main cause of cancer-related deaths for children under age 14.

So if you’re already using olive oil, there’s ample reason to continue doing so for well-evidenced health benefits, and now possibly another big one. And if you aren’t, consider looking into the many reasons to begin working olive oil into your diet.

Source: Journal of Molecular Biology

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