Today marks the first day of Pink October, so it’s appropriate we mention an interesting and helpful research study that was published September 14 in The Journal of the American Medical Association. The results showed that women who supplement their diet with more olive oil enjoy a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer.
The researchers, who were from various Spanish medical centers and the Harvard School of Public Health, studied 4282 post-menopausal women from 2003 and 2009. At the beginning of the study, the participants were randomly assigned to three different groups.
One group’s diet was supplemented with 1 liter of extra-virgin olive oil for the participant and the family (supplied for free by the researchers), another group was a 210 gm supply of mixed nuts each week, and the other group was simply advised to stick to a low-fat diet, and not given extra nuts or olive oil.
After following the women for nearly 5 years, the results showed that the women who were given the supplemental extra-virgin olive oil had a 62% lower incidence of developing breast cancer during the study, compared to the other two group. While the women eating the extra nuts had a somewhat lower incidence of breast cancer, the decrease was not considered significant.
Note that many of the Spanish women taking part in the study were already eating a Mediterranean diet (rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes), but that the women who ate additional servings of extra-virgin olive oil were the ones who showed a particular benefit. The researchers also noted in this study that the women who were faithful about eating a Mediteranean diet had a 30% lower risk of heart disease or strokes, compared with women not on this diet.
Why does extra-virgin olive oil appear to confer this anti-cancer and heart protective benefit? Olive oil contains lots of healthy monosaturated fatty acids, the most important being oleic acid, thought to be anti-cancerogenic. Extra-virgin olive oil is the oil produced from the first pressing of the olives, while virgin olive oil is produced from processing the remains of this first pressing.
It appears that extra-virgin olive oil is worth the extra cost, as it contains a higher level of polyphenols and other anti-oxidant compounds including lignans. It makes sense to add extra-virgin olive oil (preferably unheated) to your daily diet, not only to protect against breast cancer, but as part of an overall anti-cancer diet.
See also in ProcuraMed:
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