July 06, 2003
Following is a summary of some recent research into the effects of olive oil. Some of these intriguing preliminary studies may not pan out in human studies.
Breast Cancer - M Solanas from the Department of Cell Biology in Barcelona reported in the International Journal of Oncology that olive oil slowed breast cancer in rats. A corn oil diet stimulated more cancers than a control diet while olive oil led to fewer and smaller tumors than the control diet. Solanas M - Int J Oncol - 01-Oct-2002; 21(4): 745-53
Dietary Fat and Cancer - L Kushi from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland found that based on current studies there is no evidence to support recommendations to lower total fat to lower cancer risk. While decreasing red meat has been shown to decrease the risk of colorectal, prostate and breast cancer, there is little evidence that lowering plant fats would do the same. In fact, there is evidence that increasing intake of monosaturated fats such as olive oil would decrease breast cancer risk. Kushi L - Am J Med - 30-Dec-2002; 113
Bioactive compounds - Kris-Etherton and others at the graduate program in Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University reviewed these constituent which typically occur in small quantities in foods. Phenolic compounds which include the Flavenoids, are potent antioxidants which can deter cancer and cardiovascular disease. Phytoestrogens in soy foods, hydroxytyrosol in olives, Resveratron in nuts and lycopene in tomatoes have all shown cancer fighting properties. While more research is needed, enough is known to recommend a diet rich in these bioactive compounds. Kris-Etherton PM - Am J Med - 30-Dec-2002; 113 Suppl 9B: 71S-88S
Fat in the diet won't necessarily make you fat - WC Willett from the Harvard School of Public Health compared long and short term studies on dietary fat and obesity. Cutting fat out of the diet will lead to weight loss in short term studies but the effect disappears if subjects are observed for more than a year. Fat consumption within the range of 18% to 40% of energy has little effect on body fat. In the last two decades the average American has eaten substantially less fat as a percentage of energy yet is much more likely to be obese. Willett WC - Am J Med - 30-Dec-2002; 113 Suppl 9B: 47S-59S