Researchers from the Department of Health Sciences of the University of Jaén (UJA) have described the antitumor effect of two minor components of extra virgin olive oil when they act together.
Several studies link the Mediterranean Diet and EVOO intake with a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including breast cancer. Many of them described antitumor properties of isolated minor compounds present in extra virgin olive oil, but its beneficial properties arise from the effects of all its compounds acting together.
This research has been carried out by the professor of Immunology at the UJA, José Juan Gaforio, together with the UJA researchers Cristina Sánchez Quesada, Francisco Gutiérrez Santiago and Carmen Rodríguez García. The study has been published by the prestigious journal Nutrients , and has received funding from the Junta de Andalucía (Project of Excellence PI10-AGR-6724).
The aim of the present study was to test the antitumor effects of two minor compounds, hydroxytyrosol (HT) and squalene (SQ), on highly metastatic human breast tumor cells (MDA-MB-231), when acting in combination.
Both isolated compounds were previously analyzed without showing any antitumor effect in highly invasive breast cancer cells, but the present results show that HT at 100 µM, combined with different concentrations of SQ, exerts antitumor effects. When combined, HT and SQ can inhibit cell proliferation, promote apoptosis (cell death) and DNA damage in metastatic breast cancer cells. Therefore, the results of this research suggest "that the health-promoting properties of EVOO may be due, at least in part, to the combined action of these two minor compounds", Gaforio stressed.
Likewise, he stated that the results show "that the lower incidence of breast cancer that has been associated with the intake of EVOO may be a consequence of the synergistic activity of different minor compounds, instead of the action of a single isolated compound". However, he assured that "in vitro results cannot be extrapolated to human populations. For this reason, more studies are needed to confirm its possible preventive role".