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Public Health Nutr. 2011 Dec;14(12A):2323-32. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011002588.

Olive oil, an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, and breast cancer.

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Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Physiology Unit, Medicine School, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.



The Mediterranean diet has been related to a lower risk of some chronic diseases, including cancer. We aim to gain insight into the effects of the main source of fat of this diet on breast cancer, the most common type of malignancy in women.


Data from sixteen experimental series analysing the effects of dietary lipids on mammary carcinogenesis in an animal model, in the context of the international literature on the Mediterranean diet, olive oil and breast cancer risk.


Experimental and human data on the effects of olive oil and Mediterranean diet on breast cancer.


An animal model of induced breast cancer and other human and experimental studies in the literature.


Diets rich in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) exert a negative modulatory effect on experimental breast cancer to a weak promoting effect, much lower than that obtained with a high-corn oil diet. EVOO confers to the mammary adenocarcinomas a clinical behaviour and morphological features compatible with low tumour aggressiveness. This differential effect, in relation to other dietary lipids, may be related to a lower effect on body weight and sexual maturation. In addition, EVOO induced different molecular changes in tumours, such as in the composition of cell membranes, activity of signalling proteins and gene expression. All these modifications could induce lower proliferation, higher apoptosis and lower DNA damage. These results, together with the favourable effect of olive oil reported in the literature when it is consumed in moderate quantities, suggest a beneficial influence of EVOO on breast cancer risk.


Consumption of EVOO in moderate quantities and throughout the lifetime appears to be a healthy choice and may favourably influence breast cancer risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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