Is there a link between fat, cancer and olive oil?

Huile d'olive



Is there a link between fat, cancer and olive oil?

A convincing study links fat found in food and almost all frequent cancers. Most information comes from a study on fat consumption in many countries. Those with a higher fat supply are the same with the most numerous breast, prostate and kidney cancers.

Huile d'olive

Even more preoccupying: During the last 50 years, all cancers incidence increased while hearts attacks and stokes decreased. How can we explain this?

Mainly because we changed the composition of the fat we eat. When I was young, in the 1950s, 30% of the calorific supply of an ordinary diet came from the lipids, 60% of which come from saturated fat that we can find in red meat, milk, butter and cheese.

At this time, the link between heart attacks and cholesterol has been highlighted and we thought that the supply of saturated fat was the main factor of risks in our diets. At the same time, we discovered that vegetable oils with a high rate of polyunsaturated fat could lower cholesterol and risks of strokes and heart attacks considerably. Thus, we began to eat less red meat, cheese and saturated fatty acids, and to eat more polyunsaturated fatty acids such as corn oil or margarine. And, as predicted, the number of death caused by heart attacks was reduced by 50% in men and decreased moderately in women.

However, although the composition of fat changed, the daily supply remained the same. Today, polyunsaturated fatty acids make up 60% of fat. While heart attacks and strokes decreased, the effect on life expentancy has not been this obvious, and on the same period, the incidence of cancer increased, including breast, colon, prostate and lung cancers (almost always linked with smoking).

Would it be possible that the changing of the composition of fat reduced the risk of heart attacks while increasing the risk of cancer. Obviously, it is.

More recently, we studied the Mediterranean diet, in which the fat supply is not very different from that of the USA, but with wich the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer is lower. The main difference between both diets is directly linked to olive oil. Oil made from corn, sunflower, safflower or soy is exclusively polyunsaturated whereas olive oil is monoinsaturated.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids oxidise easily, that is to say they produce a toxic component called free radical that can lead to a serious cell destruction, which is the first step in the possible formation of a dangerous tumour. However, monounsaturated olive oil doesn’t oxidise, doesn’t destruct cells, and then doesn’t increase the risk of cancer.

Given this information, the message is clear. To stay in good health, we just need to reduce fat supply, but also be careful of the type of fat we eat. Saturated fat, trans fat (margarine and food fat) and polyunsaturated fat are worse for health than monounsaturated fat. This is why I suggest that you fill your closets with olive oil.

Cook your food in olive oil, use it in dressing, eat it with bread and pepper to replace butter. Benefits could be huge and make you live better and longer.

Doctor David Lipschitz is the medical director of the Mruk Family Education center on aging and the Fairlamb Senior Health Clinic.
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