Olive Oil May Stop Brain Cancer from Forming

Compound in olive oil inhibits disease activity of certain proteins.

A compound in olive oil may help prevent the development of brain cancer, a new study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology suggests.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid present in olive oil. Prior studies have shown it can inhibit the disease-causing activity of specific proteins.

Based on this information, the authors of the current study sought to examine how oleic acid affects miR-7 activity. MiR-7 is a microRNA that is active in the brain and known to suppress tumor formation.

The investigators tested the effects of oleic acid on both human cell extracts and in living cells in the lab.

The results of the study showed that the compound inhibited the activity of the protein Musashi homolog2, preventing the protein from halting miR-7 production and ultimately preventing brain tumors from forming.

Although the investigators were unable to conclude whether dietary intake of olive oil protects against brain cancer, they believe their findings could pave the way for new strategies to prevent the disease.

“While we cannot yet say that olive oil in the diet helps prevent brain cancer, our findings do suggest that oleic acid can support the production of tumor-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab,” said lead investigator Dr Gracjan Michlewski. “Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health.”

The authors noted that more research needs to be done to determine whether olive oil consumption can help prevent brain cancer, but “these results suggest that [oleic acid] can be important and a specific regulator of RNA processing events,” the authors concluded.

The American Brain Tumor Associated estimates that 80,000 new cases of primary brain tumors will be diagnosed this year in the United States. Of these, approximately 26,000 will be malignant.