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Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2019 Oct 21. doi: 10.2174/1871520619666191021160752. [Epub ahead of print]

In Vitro Anticancer Activity of Virgin Coconut Oil and its Fractions on Liver and Oral Cancer Cells.

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All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Department of Physiology Bhubaneswar-751019, India.



Coconut Oil is edible oil obtained from fresh, mature coconut kernel. Few studies have reported the anticancer role of Coconut Oil. Fatty acid component of Coconut Oil are directly targeted to Liver by portal circulation and as chylomicron via lymph. But anti-cancer activity of Coconut Oil against liver cancer cell and oral cancer cell are yet to be tested. The active component of Coconut Oil that are responsible for anticancer activity are not well understood. We have used three different Coconut Oils Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), Processed Coconut Oil (PCO) and Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO).


Each cell lines were treated with different concentration of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), Processed Coconut Oil (PCO) and Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO). The treated cells were assayed for MTT after 72 hr of incubation. The fatty acid composition of different coconut oils was analysed by gas chromatography.


Based on previous studies it will be reasonable to hypothesize that fatty acids in coconut oil may have anticancer potential and may trigger cell death in cancer cell lines.


We used different concentrations of coconut oils to treat the cells. Interestingly anticancer efficacy of VCO, PCO and FCO is not uniform, rather than efficacy vary from cell line to cell line. Only 20% VCO shows significant anticancer activity in HepG2 cell in comparison to 80% PCO against KB cell line. Remarkably the 20% of PCO and 5% of FCO shows potential growth inhibition in KB cell line instead of 80% PCO in HepG2 cell. The difference in the efficacy of VCO, PCO and FCO is different, which may be due to their fatty acid composition. Comparing the anticancer efficacy of VCO, PCO and FCO in this study helps to predict which class of fatty acids and what fatty acid may be associated with anticancer activity of VCO.


This study shows VCO, PCO and FCO has anticancer efficacy and may be used for the treatment of cancer especially liver and oral cancer.


Virgin coconut oil; fractionated coconut oil; lauric acid; liver cancer; oral cancer

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