Oleocanthal, a polyphenolic, therapeutic compound found in olive oil is the subject of a new anti-cancer study performed by nutritional science and cancer biology researchers with The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers and Hunter’s College in New York City.
Programmed cell death, known as apoptosis takes approximately 16-24 hours. Dynamic new research just published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Oncology blew scientists away – when exposed to oleocanthal, a polyphenol compound found in olive oil, cancerous cells died within 30 minutes to an hour. While researchers previously understood that compounds in olive oil were capable of killing cancer cells, until now, such short apoptosis had not been observed.
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How can olive oil kill cancer cells?
Even more fascinating was when the team looked closely to surmise why apoptosis was occurring under such swift circumstances – they discovered that cancer cells were being killed by their own enzymes. And, not only one isolated type of cancerous cell, but all of the cancerous cells they were examining.
Lysosomes, or vesicles are larger in cancerous cells than in healthy cells. Lysosomes serve as a recycling center for a cells waste – with cancer cells, the “waste-center” is much larger than that of the average cell. Oleocanthal was said to “puncture” the lysosome vesicles causing the cancerous cell’s own enzymes to kill it.
Oleocanthal kills cancer without harming healthy cells
Unlike chemotherapeutic pharmaceuticals that devastate healthy cellular activity, the therapeutic polyphenolic compound found in olive oil kills cancer while maintaining vitality among healthy cells. As Paul Breslin, one of the study’s authors at Rutgers noted, while cancerous cells died, healthy cells were not harmed, but rather the oleocanthal “put them to sleep.” The lifecycle of healthy cells was only temporarily affected in this way, without any negative observations and in approximately 24 hours, the healthy cells resumed their life cycle.
David Foster, the study’s senior editor said in a Rutgers’ news release, “we also need to understand why it is that cancerous cells are more sensitive to oleocanthal than non-cancerous cells.” New research aims to discover this nuance.
The amazing health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil, known as the “Queen of oils” fits perfectly into your epigenetic landscape. Along with anti-cancer benefits of olive oil, the phenolic compounds in the traditional food have been observed to improve longevity related health such as improving immunological conditions, protecting against osteoperosis, improving cardiovascular wellness, enhancing neurological health, combats diabetes, and even helping fight against the effects of air pollution.
And, good news for your skin just in time for summer – diets associated with higher concentrations of monounsaturated fats from olive oil help decrease photosensitivity; protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Remember, be sure to store olive oil away from heat and light in a cool, dark area to prevent oxidative damage.
About the author:
Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.