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Olive oil

Diets rich in olive oil can help prevent cell damage that leads to cancer, study suggests

Friday, December 29, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: olive oil, cancer prevention, healing foods


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(NewsTarget) Diets that have plenty of olive oil may be helping prevent body cell damage that can lead to cancer, suggests a study by researchers in Denmark.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital looked at 182 men between the ages of 20 and 60, hailing from five European countries, for two weeks. During that time, the men consumed one-quarter cup of olive oil a day, and showed an average 13 percent reduction in 8oxodG, a marker of oxidative damage to DNA cells.

This damage is usually caused when reactive oxygen species -- metabolism byproducts -- overcome the body's antioxidant defenses. While olive oil is known to contain phenols, which are believed to be powerful antioxidants, they do not account for the drop in oxidative damage to DNA, said study co-author Dr. Henrick E. Poulsen and colleagues. The men consumed olive oils with varying levels of phenols, but the oxidative damage was reduced regardless of these levels.

The study results -- reported in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology's The FASEB Journal -- seem to suggest that the monosaturated fats found in olive oil are more likely causing the beneficial effect, the scientists said.

The study participants from Northern Europe showed higher 8oxodG levels than their Southern European counterparts, which could account for the fact that, in the past, men from Northern Europe have been found to have higher rates of cancer than men in Southern Europe, where the olive-oil-rich "Mediterranean diet" is a staple. In fact, the scientists reported, Northern Europeans generally have higher levels certain cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers.

Poulsen said the evidence supports advice that suggests replacing saturated fats from meats and butter with vegetable fats such as olive oil. However, he was quick to point out that olive oil was just one part of the Mediterranean diet, which is also rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. He added that olive oil's benefits notwithstanding, it was not a replacement for calorie control and regular exercise.

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