A new study published last month in Frontiers in Oncology has provided support for the use of high-phenolic extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in humans with cancer. We know what you’re thinking—"haven’t we heard this already”?! And you are right, we have told you how phenolic compounds in EVOO, such as oleocanthal, can selectively kill cancer cells. However, these studies were all done in vitro (ie, in a dish) or in animals. Now, a first-of-its-kind study has shown that humans with early stage leukemia may benefit from consuming high-phenolic EVOO.
Interestingly, two types of EVOO were used in the study, and they were both higher in polyphenols than the average EVOO you would find in the market. However, one oil was low in Oleocanthal and Oleacein while high in other polyphenols (Low-EVOO) while the other one, our very-own The Governor, contains about 5x more oleocanthal and 8x more oleacein than the low-EVOO (High-EVOO).
Patients with an incurable form of blood cancer called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) were assigned to two groups and asked to consume 40 milliliters (think: 1 shot glass or 3 tablespoons) each day of either the low-EVOO or high-EVOO. Patients consumed the oil daily for 3 months, and at the end of the study, patients that consumed high-EVOO, but not low-EVOO, had reduced white blood cell counts and increased levels of cancer-killing proteins in their blood. Importantly, these results suggest that dietary intervention with high-EVOO for early stage CLL patients is both feasible and beneficial.
As a follow-up study, early stage CLL patients consumed 40 milliliters of high-EVOO (The Governor) each day for 6 months. Blood was assessed 3 months prior to dietary intervention with high-EVOO, as well as during and at the end of the study. Patient blood at the end of the study had lower white blood cell and lymphocyte counts than before starting high-EVOO consumption. Additionally, an increase in proteins involved in killing cancer cells and halting cancer cell growth, as well as a concomitant decrease in proteins that induce cancer cell growth, was observed in patient blood at the end of the study compared with before the study.
In summary, this is the first study to suggest that EVOO rich in oleocanthal and oleacein can kill and/or reduce the survival of CLL cells in humans. While further clinical studies are still needed to determine if high amounts of oleocanthal and oleacein consumed in EVOO can improve the prognosis of CLL or other cancers, the results of this pilot study are consistent with results from in vitro and animal models demonstrating the cancer-killing properties of oleocanthal and oleocanthal-rich EVOO.