Research published in the journal Molecular & Cellular Oncology, based on data from Rutgers University and Hunter College researchers, has shown a link between olive oil and eradicating cancer cells.
The team found that oleocanthal, a compound in extra virgin olive oil, destroyed cancer cells’ waste centres or lysosomes, which are larger than healthy cells, and they did so in less than an hour. Normally, unnecessary cells in the body experience apoptosis – cells dying – but it takes from 16 to 24 hours.
The findings are important because they suggest many possible uses for oleocanthal, which is just one of the phenols, or antioxidants, that exist in olive oil. The co-authors of the study, Onica LeGendre and David Foster of Hunter College, and Paul Breslin of Rutgers, have said they want to learn more about why the compound kills and shrinks cancer cells, and why cancerous cells are more susceptible to the effects of oleocanthal than non-cancerous ones.
While the discovery is a breakthrough, it will likely be years before oleocanthal makes it to clinical trial.