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Nutrients. 2011 Oct;3(10):839-57. doi: 10.3390/nu3100839. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Hydroxytyrosol protects against oxidative DNA damage in human breast cells.

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Immunology Division, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Experimental Sciences, University of Jaén, Campus las Lagunillas s/n, 23071 Jaén, Spain.


Over recent years, several studies have related olive oil ingestion to a low incidence of several diseases, including breast cancer. Hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol are two of the major phenols present in virgin olive oils. Despite the fact that they have been linked to cancer prevention, there is no evidence that clarifies their effect in human breast tumor and non-tumor cells. In the present work, we present hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol's effects in human breast cell lines. Our results show that hydroxytyrosol acts as a more efficient free radical scavenger than tyrosol, but both fail to affect cell proliferation rates, cell cycle profile or cell apoptosis in human mammary epithelial cells (MCF10A) or breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231 and MCF7). We found that hydroxytyrosol decreases the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in MCF10A cells but not in MCF7 or MDA-MB-231 cells while very high amounts of tyrosol is needed to decrease the ROS level in MCF10A cells. Interestingly, hydroxytyrosol prevents oxidative DNA damage in the three breast cell lines. Therefore, our data suggest that simple phenol hydroxytyrosol could contribute to a lower incidence of breast cancer in populations that consume virgin olive oil due to its antioxidant activity and its protection against oxidative DNA damage in mammary cells.


breast cancer; DNA damage; Mediterranean diet; hydroxytyrosol; olive oil minor compounds; oxidative stress; phenols; reactive oxygen species; tyrosol

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