UAB will carry out an in-depth study of the effects olive oil has on the prevention of breast cancer

December 22, 2009

Ana Ripoll, Rector of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and Pedro Barato, President of "Organización Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español", signed a research agreement to carry out an in depth study on how the intake of olive oil can work towards preventing and fighting against breast cancer. The Multidisciplinary Group on Breast Cancer Research (GMECM), directed by Dr Eduard Escrich, lecturer of the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, will be working on this research project during the next five years. GMECM has demonstrated in previous researches that a moderate intake of virgin olive oil slows down the spreading of this cancer.

Researchers at GMECM aim to determine the possible activity of common components of the human diet with the objective of formulating scientific opinions on the health of the population or levels of risk, all within the field of breast cancer prevention. Among the results obtained until now researchers highlight the fact that a moderate intake of virgin olive oil can slow down the spreading of this cancer due to the action of mechanisms which counterattack the possible harmful effects of fats, while an excessive intake of seed oils has damaging effects.

In the study, which will begin this coming year, researchers will continue to study the effects olive oil can have on this type of cancer, with experimental studies and with human cell lines and samples. Among the research studies to be carried out, some of the most prominent focus on the effects fats and oils can have on mammary tumours, and especially those of extra virgin olive oil, and an analysis of the molecular changes found in these tumours in all of the genome and in the specific genes implicated in this pathology.

It is foreseen that the agreement between UAB and "Organización Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español" will form part of a collaboration framework between the two former entities and the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Rural Action, and of Health of the Catalan Government. Under this agreement, GMECM receives the support of another entity of the olive oil sector, and institutional recognition for its research activities. It has recently received support from entities such as the Ministry for Science, the Catalan Government, the "Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero" Foundation and the Olive Oil Agency belonging to the Spanish Ministry for the Environment and Rural and Marine Regions.

The research tasks of GMECM have earned it numerous recognitions in the past few years, including prizes from the Medical Sciences and Health Academy of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, the Spanish Society of Senology and Mammary Pathology, and those awarded recently to Dr Escrich which include the International Award of the "Santiago Dexeus Font" Foundation for his professional trajectory in the field of research in Mastology, the Picudo Award for his research into olive oil and health, and the FECOES National Nutrition Prize for his contributions to the studies into the effects of nutrition on breast cancer. Dr Escrich was also made member of the Mare de Déu de l'Olivera Brotherhood of the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica of Barcelona.
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Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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