Scientists have suspected that an ingredient in extra virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, can kill cancer cells, and this first-time study has shown, and confirmed, how this occurs.
Researchers Paul Breslin (Rutgers University), biologist David Foster (Hunter College) and chemist Onica LeGendre (Hunter College) discovered in a lab study that oleocanthal effectively causes cancer cells to kill themselves with their own enzymes. The oleocanthal causes a rupture of a part of the cancerous cell which releases enzymes and causes cell death – and all without harming healthy cells.
“Oleocanthal is a name for a chemical in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) that means ‘Stinging Oil Aldehyde’,” Paul Breslin told Olive Oil Times. “It is made by the olive when it is crushed to make the pulp from which the oil is pressed.”
“There are many compounds in EVOO that have a 6-carbon ring structure on them and collectively they are known as phenolics,” Breslin added. “These compounds are collectively good anti-oxidants preventing oxygen pore-radicals from forming and they also tend to be anti-inflammatory. Oleocanthal has been shown to interfere with processes associated with many types of inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer formation and growth.”
The study showed that the oleocanthal caused the breakdown and death of cancer cells within 30 minutes; much faster than programmed cell death (known as apoptosis) which takes 16-24 hours, causing scientists to realize that something else (oleocanthal) was causing the cancer cell death.
“There are many studies that show that oleocanthal can interfere with cancer processes and growth pathways. It has also been shown in live animals that oleocanthal can shrink tumors in mice,” explained Breslin. “What is not known is whether these are all separate effects of oleocanthal on cancer or whether there is perhaps an upstream event that triggers them. We have what may be an upstream event that is a novel phenomenon to be described in that we are opening up the lysosome with oleocanthal inside the cell and releasing toxic enzymes that kill the cell. This phenomenon is called Lysosomal Membrane Permeabilization or LMP.”
“We wish to look at whether this is why tumors are shrinking in mice in the presence of oleocanthal. In our study, David Foster and Onica LeGendre focused on breast, pancreatic, and prostate tumor cells and showed they could be killed by LMP but we did not kill three kinds of healthy non-cancerous cells,” Breslin said.
The next step for researchers is to take this study outside the lab to investigate the effectiveness of oleocanthal in killing cancer cells and tumors in living animals.
The results of the study were made public January 23, 2015 and will be published in the journal, Molecular and Cellular Oncology.
Original article can be found at Olive Oil Times