A compound found in olive oil may help to prevent cancer developing in the brain, a study shows.

Research into oleic acid — the primary ingredient in olive oil — has shown how it can help prevent cancer-causing genes from functioning in cells.

The oily substance — one of a group of nutrients known as fatty acids — stimulates the production of a cell molecule whose function is to prevent cancer-causing proteins from forming.

The study team says it is too soon to say whether dietary consumption of olive oil may help prevent brain cancer. Their findings, however, point towards possible therapies based on the oil to prevent brain cancer from occurring.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh analyzed the effect of oleic acid on a cell molecule, known as miR-7, which is active in the brain and is known to suppress the formation of tumors.

They found that oleic acid prevents a cell protein, known as MSI2, from stopping production of miR-7. In this way, the olive oil component supports the production of miR-7, which helps prevent tumors from forming.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: There is a growing body of research showing that healthy fats obtained through diet and supplementation play a beneficial role in the treatment and prevention of cancer. Generally speaking, cancer is an inflammatory disease – caused by increased cellular inflammation. Cancer itself adds to this inflammatory state, and a self-perpetuating cycle exists where inflammation due to the cancer continues to stimulate its growth and spread. By strategically introducing healthy anti-inflammatory fats, we suspect that cancer growth will be slowed. However, we must be careful not to give too many anti-inflammatory agents, as the body needs some inflammation for optimal functioning. As with most things in the body, a healthy balance is imperative.