EDINBURGH, Scotland — Olive oil, already a highly-esteemed component of the Mediterranean diet, may play a role in preventing brain cancer, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland analyzed the effect of oleic acid, the predominant compound in olive oil, on a specific cell molecule.
The molecule that was examined is called miR-7— it is active in the brain, and known to stymie the ability of tumors to form and spread.
Oleic acid, specifically, prevents a cell protein known as MSI2 from ceasing the production of miR-7, in turn reducing one’s risk of getting cancer.
“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 tumour-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab,” explains lead researcher Dr. Gracjan Michlewski in a school press release. “Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health.”
At present, the researchers’ findings seem to suggest that oleic oil could possibly be integrated into therapies to prevent the development of brain cancer.
Other than potentially preventing neurological disease, a prime health benefit of consuming oleic oil is the lowering of bad cholesterol, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. A study earlier this year showed that people who follow the Mediterranean diet can improve the effects of “good” cholesterol by adding a dash of olive oil to their meals.
The experiment was conducted on both human cell extracts and lab-based living cells.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust. Its findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Biology.