Olive Oil Compound Kills Cancer Cells: All-Powerful Oleocanthal

March 25, 2015

olive Oil Crate cropped

A common compound found in extra virgin olive oil might be the next best hope in the fight against cancer. Oleocanthal, which already is associated with a number of beneficial health effects, has unprecedented success killing human cancer cells when exposed to them in a lab, according to a recent study published in Molecular & Cellular Oncology. The best part? The compound leaves healthy cells unharmed.

The study, performed by scientists at Rutgers University and Hunter College, built on previous work that had suggested oleocanthal had lethal effects on cancer. What researchers didn’t know was why. They hypothesized that the compound triggered a self-defense sequence in cancer cells, but what they found was even more interesting.

In fact, the oleocanthal compromises the cell barrier where cancer cells partition off their waste products. Think about the colon rupturing in a human and its contents escaping into the rest of the body, and you get the idea. “Once you open one of those things, all hell breaks loose,” Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, said in a press release.

The oleocanthal works quickly, too. “Amazingly, OC induced cell death in all cancer cells examined — as rapidly as 30 minutes after treatment,” the study reports.

The next task is to figure out why the oleocanthal killed cancer cells but merely put healthy cells into a dormant phase, or “put them to sleep,” as Breslin put it, from which they recovered in a day or so. “The data presented here indicates that cancer cells having fragile lysosomal membranes — as compared to non-cancerous cells — are susceptible to lysosomotropic agent-induced cell death,” the study says. “Therefore, targeting lysosomal membrane stabiltiy represents a novel approach to induce cancer-specific cell death.”

Oleocanthal wasn’t even isolated and named until 2005, but there is now a growing body of research about its numerous health benefits. It has been observed as an effective agent against inflammatory responses, which means it can reduce some of the harms that accompany ailments like heart disease and cancer, and even protect against damage caused by air pollution. And a 2013 study found that the compound can help ward off Alzheimer’s by physically removing the harmful plaques that build up in the brain as the disease progresses.

The news keeps getting better for olives. People who eat a Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with plenty olive oil, have been found to have lower rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers, as well as longer life expectancies than other populations. It looks more and more likely that oleocanthal is a key component of the diet’s healthy outcomes. 

Of course, it’s not as simple as to say that you can just consume more olive oil to fight off cancer in your body. There are a lot of variables involved — and there’s a long way to go from killing cancer cells in a lab to proving that the same process actually works on human beings. But for now it’s not a bad idea to increase consumption of olive oil.

While oleocanthal isn’t found in all olive oils, and it isn’t listed on the label, you can increase your chances of getting an oil that contains the compound by purchasing bottles labeled as early harvest or extra virgin. All the evidence points to it having extraordinary benefits to your health and well-being — and we’re only starting to unlock the mystery of why.

The study isn’t without its limits. Cell cultures provide a reliable model for understanding how an external substance affects a new biological environment, but cells aren’t as complex as rats, which aren’t as complex as humans. It will still be years before oleocanthal makes its way into a clinical setting, by which time other technologies may have already crowded it out.

As a proof of concept, however, the findings suggest a robust set of possibilities for the compound. Oleocanthal is just one of the many phenols — a type of antioxidant — that appears in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s no accident the stuff appears in so many of the world’s healthiest diets. In addition to the heart-healthy antioxidants, olive oil provides a rich source of healthy fats that may preserve brain health and improve memory.

“We think oleocanthal could explain reduced [cancer] incidence in Mediterranean diets where consumption is high,” Foster told Medical Daily in an email. “And it is also possible that purified (higher-dose) could possibly be used therapeutically.”  

Ultimately, the co-authors want to learn more about why oleocanthal targets and shrinks cancer cells specifically. “We also need to understand why it is that cancerous cells are more sensitive to oleocanthal than non-cancerous cells,” Foster said in the release. Even if consuming more olive oil won’t necessarily protect you from cancer today, budding research may help bring some of the ingredient into the hospital in the future.

Source: LeGendre O, Breslin P, Foster D. Oleocanthal rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death via lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP). Molecular & Cellular Oncology. 2015.

Soup, Salad & Sandwich Nutrition Series


Come to the Soup-Salad-Sandwich Series at Oliva! to learn easy and healthy ways to improve your eating habits!

This series, brought to you by Oliva! Gourmet Olive Oils and Vinegars and Registered Dietitian Christine Sloat, discusses the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet.  Each week will focus on a different health topic and will include tasty recipes and cooking demonstrations!

Grab your friends and come ready to sample, healthy and delicious soups, salads ands sandwiches.

Clifton Park:

Wednesday September 24 – Mediterranean Diet

Recipes:  White Bean & Kale Soup with Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Arugula Salad

Wednesday October 22 –  Antioxidants  (It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month!)

Recipes: Apple and Feta Grilled Cheese Roasted Vegetable Salad Monday

November 17 – Blood Sugar Control

Recipes: Apple and Feta Grilled Cheese Roasted Vegetable Salad

Stuyvesant Plaza:

Wednesday October 1 – Mediterranean Diet

Recipes:  White Bean & Kale Soup with Roasted Butternut Squash & Pear Arugula Salad

Wednesday October 29 –  Antioxidants (It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month!)

Recipes: Apple and Feta Grilled Cheese Roasted Vegetable Salad Monday

Monday November 10 – Blood Sugar Control

Recipes: Apple and Feta Grilled Cheese Roasted Vegetable Salad

All classes begin at 6:30PM

Admission: $20.  **Pre-registration is required! **

Olive Oil & Skin Care

skin and olive oil

Olive oil is not only used for cooking, but it’s also renowned for its cosmetic application..especially for curing acne because of it’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. You can use olive oil in many ways to cure acne: as a scrub, massaging with it or mixing it with lemon juice and other essential oils.

Why Can Olive Oil Cure Acne?

Notes: The quality of olive oil that one uses is a very important factor. You have to use superior quality extra virgin olive oil. However, not just high quality EVOO, but preferably the type that is rich in polyphenols.   Look for olive oil has no additives and other blends of different oils. This ensures that the oil does not cause any irritation on the skin.  (Oliva! Ultra Premium Olive Oils display the polyphenol count – the higher the better!  And, they are single cultivar, estate produced olive oils, considered to be some of the purest offered.)

Here are some of the reasons why olive oil can cure acne quicker than other forms of medication.

1. Antioxidant

Extra virgin olive oil contains a very powerful antioxidant, called polyphenol. This antioxidant helps in keeping the skin moist throughout. Apparently, acne heals faster when the skin is moist as opposed to dry skin. Even though it is possible for acne to be healed when the skin is dry, there will be some acne scars and spots left behind.

2. Antibacterial

Extra virgin oil also contains antibacterial properties. Since bacteria can worsen the condition of acne on the face, antibacterial properties in this oil prevent acne from becoming worse due to bacteria infections. This further makes it easy for one to cure acne.

3. Anti-inflammation

Pure Extra Virgin Olive Oil has anti-inflammatory properties and, therefore, can help in stopping inflammation on your face. This is important because it also prevents acne from becoming infectious.

4. Skin scrubs

Skin scrubs made from pure extra virgin oil, are among the best scrubs for curing acne. They help in unclogging the skin pores, removing dead skin cells and improving on blood circulation in the skin. Scrub made from this oil also helps in reducing acne scars.

How to Use Olive Oil for Acne

Olive Oil Acne Scrub
Olive oil acne scrub has a number of benefits, thus making it an ideal acne scrub for curing acne and acne scars. Some of the benefits attributed to this acne scrub include:

  • Preventing and managing acne breakouts.
  • Moisturizing the skin and therefore providing a favorable condition for acne to heal quickly without leaving acne marks.
  • This scrub also has a percentage of polyphenol and thus makes it easier to cure acne compared to other scrubs.
  • Reduce acne scars on your face
  • This scrub also helps in unclogging skin pores. Clogging of skin pores is a major cause of acne.
How to Make

To make olive oil acne scrub, you need to have a cup of sea salt (finely grounded) and a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil (high quality). Mix the two and then store the mixture in a glass jar and use a lid to cover it

How to Apply

Start by cleaning your face with soft clothing or your bath towel. When your skin is still moist, rub the mixture of salt and olive oil on your skin. Apply it in a gentle circular motion. Let it stay on your face for 3 to 4 minutes and then clean your face using warm water. When your skin is still moist, apply a little amount of olive oil on your face and then rub it on the skin until it is absorbed.


Olive Oil Massage
Olive oil massage is also a good way of using the olive oil to cure acne. Some of its benefits include

  • Removing dead cells
  • Keeping the skin wet
  • Enhancing the circulation of blood in the skin
  • Healing acne scars
  • Unclogging skin pores and thus enhancing good circulation of air in the skin
How to Make
To make olive oil massage, all you need is high quality EVOO.
How to Apply
Put a soft cloth in hot water and then wring it out. Place the cloth on your face after massaging olive oil on your face in a circular motion. Stay in that position until the cloth cools down. Remove it and then put it back in hot water. Use the cloth with oil on your skin. When your skin is still moist, apply little olive oil and rub it until it is absorbed by the skin.


Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Olive oil and lemon juice can be combined together and provide one of the best cure for acne. Among the benefits using them include.

  • Eliminates acne scars
  • Stops inflammation of the acne
  • Removes dead cells
  • Unclogs skin pores
How to Make Mix 1/8 tsp. of lemon juice with 1/4 tsp. of olive oil and then put them in a glass jar.
How to Apply Clean your face using a soft clothing and warm water. Apply the mixture of lemon juice on your face and stay for 5 to 10 minutes. Clean your face and apply olive oil on it, while still moist.


Olive Oil and Baking Soda
Benefits Baking soda and olive work well in curing acne. They have the following benefits.

  • Get rid of scars
  • Unclog skin pores
  • Remove dead cells
How to Make Mix a teaspoon of baking soda and then mix it with one tablespoon of olive oil.
How to Apply Apply this mixture on your face and then massage it gently for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the dead skin cells and you will notice how healthier and youthful your skin will appear.


Olive Oil and Rosehip Oil
Benefits Olive oil can also be combined with Rosehip oil and later used as a cure for acne. The benefits of using them include.

  • Reducing acne inflammation
  • Removing dead skin cells
  • Unclogging skin pores
How to Make Start by mixing a teaspoon of Rosehip oil with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Put them in a bottle and mix them thoroughly.
How to Apply Apply the mixture on your skin for a few minutes. Doing this thrice a day will cure acne.


Cooking Demonstration with Chef James from Pasta Pane

Join us for our first cooking demonstration in the Clifton Park Store, featuring Chef James from Pasta Pane!

Wednesday, June 11:  6 pm – 8 pm

$25 per person, pre-register by Tuesday, June 10


1st course – Antipasti: Gamberi

Oven roasted shrimp, stemmed artichokes, cherry tomato, garlic, white beans, and fresh Thyme garnished with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and balsamic reduction.

2nd course – Insalate: Zenzero E Bietole

Kale, tossed in a honey ginger vinaigrette, wood fired baby carrots, toasted pepitas, pickled golden beets, and ricotta salata with crispy flat bread.

3rd course – Primi: Cavoletti E Ciliegine

Whole wheat spaghetti, kale, garlic, eggplant , roasted cherry tomato, Tuscan beans and Extra Virgin Olive Oil garnished with ricotta salata.

4th course – Dolci: Torta all’olio

Citrus olive oil cake with whipped mascarpone and balsamic macerated orange supreme.