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A Taste of Life on World Cancer Day

Enjoying Olive Oil for Reduced Risk of Cancer

World Cancer Day is a day to recognize the millions of people around the world who have been affected by cancer and to honor those who have lost their lives to this devastating and increasingly prevalent disease. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent estimates, cancer continues as one of the leading causes of death, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020 alone.

On an empowering note, however, the WHO also estimates that about one-third of all cancer deaths are linked to lifestyle and dietary factors such as unhealthy diets. So, this year, it is time to fight back. Olive oil, a common ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, has long been lauded as a healthy dietary staple and recent research suggests it may offer an even bigger health benefit than previously thought: a reduced risk of certain cancers.

While scientists are still delving into the multiple ways olive oil acts as a shield against cancer, it’s clear that its protective power is not rooted in just one factor. Laboratory studies have demonstrated a variety of its major compounds, such as oleic acid, squalene, and polyphenols contribute to its anti-cancer properties. Such compounds help to inhibit the growth of tumor cells, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as promote the natural occurrence of cell death as we age. Oleic acid, in particular, is associated with decreased incidence and mortality from several types of cancer, particularly breast and gastrointestinal cancers.

For example, one such review of research evidence found the risk for gastrointestinal cancer was found to be 23% lower for those who consumed higher amounts of olive oil compared to those who did not. While, another study indicated that women who followed the Mediterranean diet intervention, with 1L/week of extra-virgin olive oil, had a significant 62% reduced risk of postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who did not.[4]

Although further research is needed, this growing body of research suggests a strong link between regular consumption of olive oil and a reduced risk of cancer. However, it is important to remember that no single food has the power to prevent cancer and the effects of olive oil on cancer reduction may vary depending on factors such as age and lifestyle. As with any food product or dietary supplement, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines for a healthy diet and lifestyle to maximize one’s health.

This said, for this World Cancer Day help raise awareness about cancer and show solidarity by taking one step forward in the fight against cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as including olive oil into your regular diet. Also, get screened for cancer regularly, and share your experience and knowledge with others to help reduce the burden of cancer for everyone.

By participating in World Cancer Day, we can help spread the word and work towards a future in which cancer no longer has the power to take away precious lives.

[1] Borzì A., Biondi A, Basile F., et al., Olive Oil Effects on Colorectal Cancer, Nutrients. 2019 Jan; 11(1): 32

[2] Markellos C., Ourailidou M., Gavriatopoulou M., et al., Olive oil intake and cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis, PLoS One. 2022; 17(1): e0261649.

[3] Buckland G., Travier N., Cirera L., et al. (2012). Olive Oil Intake and Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(5), 1125–1135.

[4] Visioli F., Franco M., Toledo E., et al., Olive oil and prevention of chronic diseases: Summary of an International conference, Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis . 2018 Jul;28(7):649-656.