Phenols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil Inhibit Colon Cancer Cell Growth

Dec. 11, 2014
By Sukhsatej Batra

Recent News

Research shows that estro­gen recep­tor β has a pro­tec­tive effect on colon cancer and may inhibit pro­lif­er­a­tion of colon cancer cells. Estrogen recep­tor β is the main estro­gen recep­tor expressed at a high level by normal human colon mucosa. In a can­cer­ous colon, how­ever, expres­sion of estro­gen recep­tor β decreases and is asso­ci­ated with pro­gres­sion of col­orec­tal cancer.

Interest in phe­nols present in extra virgin olive oil as pos­si­ble anti-car­cino­genic agents for colon cancer stems from the fact that most phe­nols have a chem­i­cal struc­ture sim­i­lar to 17 β‑estradiol (main form of estro­gen in humans) and may be pro­tec­tive against colon cancer by acting as selec­tive estro­gen recep­tor mod­u­la­tors.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
In a recent study car­ried out in the University of Florence and pub­lished in the Journal Nutrition and Cancer, researchers eval­u­ated the effects of phe­no­lic extracts from two dif­fer­ent Italian vari­eties of extra virgin olive oil on human colon cancer cell lines in vitro. They reported that the total polyphe­nol con­tent of the EVOOs, sup­plied by com­pa­nies from Tuscany and Liguria, was 12.69 and 8.43 mil­ligrams per mil­li­liter, respec­tively. Hydroxytyrosol, sec­oiri­doids and lig­nans were the main phe­no­lic extracts iden­ti­fied in these EVOOs.

The phenol extracts were tested on human colon cancer cell lines that were designed to over­ex­press estro­gen recep­tor β. The authors reported that the EVOO extracts inter­acted with sig­nals depen­dent on estro­gen for growth of col­orec­tal can­cer­ous cells, thus pro­vid­ing an anti-pro­lif­er­a­tive effect on them. EVOO extracts also down reg­u­lated the expres­sion of sev­eral genes, includ­ing BAG‑1 that resulted in inhi­bi­tion of cel­lu­lar growth.

The researchers plan on con­duct­ing more stud­ies to inves­ti­gate the role of EVOO extracts in stop­ping col­orec­tal cancer growth through the estro­gen recep­tor β meta­bolic path­way.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second lead­ing cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, accord­ing to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

These latest find­ings add to the health ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing a Mediterranean diet, which pro­vides many cancer-pro­tec­tive com­po­nents because it is a diet rich in fruits, veg­eta­bles, olive oil, seafood, whole grains, and wine.