The consumption of olive oil has long been associated with reduced incidence of cancer. Large observational and epidemiological studies have showed that using olive oil instead of saturated fats, such as butter, is associated with lower odds of any type of cancer, including prostate cancer.
However a recent study revealed that replacing some carbohydrates with vegetable fats, such as those found in olive oil, can actually halt the progression of prostate cancer after diagnosis.
The researchers followed 4,577 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer, part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). Started in 1986, the purpose of HPFS is to evaluate a series of hypotheses about men’s health, relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious illnesses.
The results of their analysis, which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, showed that men who consumed more vegetable fat after diagnosis had a lower risk of lethal prostate cancer.
Replacing 10 percent of calories from carbohydrates with vegetable fats was associated with a 29 percent drop in the risk of lethal prostate cancer. Erin Richman head of the study, said that the benefit was really when you were replacing refined carbohydrates with foods like olive oil and nuts.
While this study showed it is not necessary to cut down on fat with a cancer diagnosis, it is important to choose the right type of fat. Olive oil provides the good monounsaturated fat but, as previous research has shown, it is also a source of antioxidants, which many researchers believe are responsible for its protective effect.
Heart disease was the leading cause of death in this group of men with prostate cancer, adding another reason to use good fats and adding further support for a heart-healthy, Mediterranean-style diet for this population.