Extra virgin olive oil could reduce risk of breast cancer, study says

LOS ANGELES -- An extra helping of extra virgin olive oil daily can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new report by the JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers followed nearly 4,300 Spanish women between the ages of 60 to 80. All of the women were placed on a Mediterranean diet with one group receiving an added helping of about 5 ounces of olive oil, another eating more nuts and another reducing their fat intake.

The olive oil group had about a 68 percent reduced breast cancer risk compared to the low fat group.

Study authors said extra virgin olive oil, the closest you can get to pure olive juice, contains oleic acid and polyphenols, a compound known to suppress tumor growth in lab studies.

Five ounces of olive oil equals 1,000 calories, and while this may work as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet, experts said it may not translate to the way we eat in the United States.

"Adding 1,000 calories a day to a diet where we know obesity is such a problem in this country probably isn't wise," said Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast cancer surgeon at UCLA Health.

She added that all women in the study were eating a Mediterranean diet to begin with and breast cancer cases over all were low. She also pointed out other weaknesses in the study.

"The women were also only followed for five years, which probably isn't long enough for a dietary intervention," she said.

Attai added that numerous studies support the many health benefits of eating more fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. While it is unclear if olive oil is the magic ingredient, Attai said it does not hurt to incorporate Mediterranean-style meals into your diet.
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