After running a series of laboratory experiments, researchers say they have now discovered why a high intake of oleic acid-rich olive oil fights cancer.
Oleic acid dramatically cut the levels of a gene called Her-2/neu. High levels of Her-2/neu are associated with aggressive tumors in many breast cancer patients. Researchers also found that oleic acid boosts the effectiveness of the antibody treatment trastuzumab (Herceptin), which targets Her-2/neu and helps prolong the life of breast cancer patients. Oleic acid was also found to increase the expression of a tumor suppresser protein.
Thus researchers emphasize it is important to be cautious about the implications of the study, as laboratory results do not always translate into clinical practice. However, they say the findings do suggest a higher level of oleic acid in breast tissue could provide an effective means of influencing the outcome of breast cancer patients who have high levels of Her-2/neu.