The anticancer properties of olives have been highlighted in two research papers. First, a study from Spain has shown that the major complex phenols in extra-virgin olive oil suppress overexpression of the HER2 cancer gene in human breast cancer cells. Although the tumoricidal effects occurred at concentrations unlikely to be achieved through olive oil consumption, the researchers hope the findings will help in the development of new therapies.

In another study, also from Spain, researchers found that maslinic acid, found in the skin, leaves and wax of olives, inhibited the growth of HT29 colon cancer cells.

Menendez JA, Vazquez-Martin A, Oliveras-Ferraros C et al. Int J Oncol 2009;34:43-51
Reyes-Zurita FJ, Rufino-Palomares EE, Lupianez JA, Cascante M. Cancer Lett 2009;273:44-54

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Originally published in the March 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.