The Michlewski lab have shown that oleic acid, the primary ingredient of olive oil, can help prevent cancer-causing genes from functioning in cells. (Kumar S, Downie Ruiz Velasco A, Michlewski G (2017) J. Mol Biol, 429: 1638–164)
They analysed 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 tumours.
Working on human cell extracts and cultured cells, they found that oleic acid prevents a cell protein, known as MSI2, from stopping production of miR-7.
In this way, oleic acid supports the production of miR-7, which helps prevent tumours from forming.
It is too soon to say whether dietary consumption of olive oil may help prevent brain cancer. Their findings, however, suggest that oleic acid can support the production of tumour-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab. Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health.
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