` How EVOO Helps Prevent Colon Cancer - Olive Oil Times

How EVOO Helps Prevent Colon Cancer

Apr. 7, 2015
Ylenia Granitto

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EVOO is an ally of our well­ness, and over the years a num­ber of stud­ies have estab­lished and con­firmed the impor­tance of its daily con­sump­tion. There is still, how­ever, much to dis­cover about the mech­a­nisms through which these healthy actions are car­ried out.

Researchers directed by Prof. Mauro Maccarrone from the University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome and Dr. Claudio D’Addario from University of Teramo have been work­ing in this direc­tion, reveal­ing how cer­tain ele­ments abun­dant in high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil func­tion to pro­tect from colon can­cer. The research con­ducted in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the University of Camerino, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS in Rome, reveals new details on the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil.

The Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome, despite its recent foun­da­tion, today has become a cen­ter of excel­lence. I reached the kind Mauro Maccarrone, pro­fes­sor in Biochemistry and dean of the Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition, at his stu­dio in the heart of the extended University area in the south­ern sec­tor of Rome, to dis­cuss his study.

First of all I asked him how his research began. 

The basic idea was to under­stand if EVOO — con­er­stone of the Mediterranean diet with var­i­ous ben­e­fi­cial prop­er­ties — had some ingre­di­ents with active prop­er­ties ver­i­fi­able on a strictly sci­en­tific basis,” he explained. We found that the hydrox­y­ty­rosol — a com­po­nent of olive oil — is suc­cess­ful in awak­en­ing the sen­tinels” that allow our body, par­tic­u­larly in the intes­tine, to defend us from some can­cers, such as col­orec­tal cancer. 

Therefore, EVOO con­tains a sub­stance that can improve our abil­ity to ward off can­cer, act­ing as a so-called tumor sup­pres­sor’.” He fur­ther explained that this occurs through a mech­a­nism called epi­ge­netic’, by which olive oil changes some of our genes, not break­ing them up or chang­ing them, but mak­ing them more or less read­able — a bit as if it opened an instruc­tion man­ual on one page rather than another, in this way, pro­tect­ing us from the onset of tumors.

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And what were your discoveries?

The pri­mary news is the fact that we have iden­ti­fied that the tar­get of hydrox­y­ty­rosol is type 1 cannabi­noid recep­tor (CB1)” (which car­ries this name because it also responds to plant deriv­a­tives present in hashish and mar­i­juana, in sub­stance the cannabi­noids). The sec­ond rel­e­vant fac­tor,” Maccarrone con­tin­ued, con­cerns the way in which the hydrox­y­ty­rosol is able to acti­vate CB1 to a larger extent in the cells, thanks to its epi­ge­netic con­trol of CB1 gene.”

At this point, it is impor­tant to know that the mol­e­cules behind the effects of olive oil have var­i­ous activ­i­ties and bio­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions and they are con­nected, for exam­ple, to the hap­haz­ard­ness of soft drugs since the lat­ter alter metab­o­lism and action of their endoge­nous coun­ter­parts (so-called endo­cannabi­noids”).

These find­ings have def­i­nitely influ­enced the def­i­n­i­tion of EVOO qual­ity, show­ing the ben­e­fits of choos­ing one richer in this sub­stance in respect to a poor qual­ity olive oil. In this way,” Maccarrone said, we can deter­mine whether a typ­i­cal cer­ti­fied prod­uct has dif­fer­ent qual­ity and quan­tity of these active com­po­nents com­pared to a low qual­ity and low price olive oil that you can find in the supermarket.”

Prof. Maccarrone said he is con­duct­ing research in this con­text (and again in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Santa Lucia Foundation IRCCS, Dr. Cinzia Rapino from University of Teramo and Prof. Giovanni Pacioni from University of L’Aquila) also on Tuber melanospo­rum, the black truf­fle from Abruzzo. Another ele­ment of the endo­cannabi­noids (called anan­damide”, from the Sanskrit word ananda for inner bliss) is present in this type of truf­fle, which can give par­tic­u­lar plea­sure in con­sump­tion, mak­ing the ani­mal that eats it a faith­ful cus­tomer that comes back for more. The curi­ous thing is that breast milk con­tains the same sub­stance. Take it out of the milk and babies like it less, which would nat­u­rally affect growth and development.

So it is inter­est­ing to note how these mol­e­cules through which the oil pro­tects us and have many impli­ca­tions in the devel­op­ment of tumors in var­i­ous areas of our body, ulti­mately also serve as a reward and that nature used them to stim­u­late babies to feed,” Maccarrone considered.

Returning to expe­ri­ences with EVOO, Maccarrone said his fam­ily has always bought the EVOO from local pro­duc­ers in Abruzzo, where he was born. Sometimes,” he said, I won­der how it is pos­si­ble that some extra vir­gin olive oils are so low priced. They clearly lack in qual­ity! This must serve as a warn­ing for con­sumers since true qual­ity undoubt­edly implies an addi­tional cost, which should not be exag­ger­ated but adequate. 

Appreciating the true value of a gen­uine prod­uct. Demonstrating it sci­en­tif­i­cally has proved to be the best incen­tive both for con­sumers’ enjoy­ment, as for pro­duc­ers to go more and more in the direc­tion of achiev­ing high-qual­ity EVOO production.” 

Further sci­en­tific sup­port to state with cer­tainty that higher qual­ity olive oil is bet­ter for us, and demand­ing qual­ity helps us keep healthy.

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