Analysis of data from a population based prospective cohort study called EPIC-Norfolk including 23,658 participants, by the researchers from the United Kingdom found that a high consumption of oleic acid (a key ingredient of olive oil) as part of the diet/food may reduce the risk of becoming a pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) patient. However, more studies are needed to confirm these findings. In any case, including moderate amounts of olive oil and other oleic acid rich foods as part of the diet may possibly help to reap the health benefits of oleic acid.
Oleic Acid and its Food Sources
Oleic acid is a natural, non-essential, monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid (MUFA) found in many animal and plant oils and fats. Of all the fatty acids, Oleic acid is the most widely distributed. Being a non-essential fatty acid, it is naturally produced by the human body. The term oleic acid is derived from the Latin word “oleum” which means “oil”. It accounts for 70%‐80% of the active ingredients in olive oil (R W Owen et al., Food Chem Toxicol., 2000). Some examples of the food sources of oleic acid are:
- Edible oils such as olive oil, macadamia oil and sunflower oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Meat such as chicken and beef
General Health Benefits of Oleic Acid
Oleic acids are considered as healthy fatty acids and are known to have many health benefits. Some of the known health benefits of oleic acid include:
- Aids in reducing the blood pressure
- Promotes functioning of the brain
- Helps in lowering bad cholesterol levels thereby reducing cardiovascular diseases
- Promotes skin repair
- Promotes fat burning
- Helps in maintaining weight and is popular in keto diets
- Helps in fighting infections
- Helps in preventing Type 2 Diabetes
- Helps in preventing inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis
Foods to Eat After Cancer Diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the common nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions about food and supplements with confidence.
When it comes to cancer, choosing the right foods and avoiding those foods and supplements which can interfere with cancer treatments or increase the risk of the cancer becomes crucial. Researchers across the world have been carrying out observational studies and meta-analyses to understand the association between different foods and dietary supplements with specific cancer risks.
Pancreatic cancer and its associated risk factors
Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the United States. 1 in 64 people might be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and the tenth most common cancer in men accounting for 7% of all cancer deaths. Pancreatic cancer is also the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women.
There are numerous factors associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer which can be classified into reversible and irreversible factors. (G. Anton Decker et al, Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y)., 2010). Reversible factors can be controlled to reduce the risk of cancer but irreversible factors cannot be.
Reversible factors for pancreatic cancer risk are:
- Smoking or tobacco usage
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Higher BMI or obesity
Irreversible factors are:
- Age (above 65 years)
- Gender (Men > women)
- Race (African Americans > White Americans)
- Family history and hereditary diseases including Lynch syndrome (MLH1 mutations), Melanoma-Pancreatic Cancer Syndrome (CDKN2A mutations) and Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (STK11 mutations). Hereditary factors account for 10% of total pancreatic cancer.
Irrespective of factor, reversible or irreversible, choosing the right food and supplement may reduce risk of pancreatic cancer or reduce further progression of cancer in the patients.
Inverse relationship between Oleic acid and risk of pancreatic cancer
Oleic acids, found in olive oil, are thought to prevent pancreatic cancer such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma by reducing hyperinsulinemia which promotes DNA damage and tumor growth. Hence, in a population based prospective cohort study called EPIC-Norfolk, done by the researchers from the James Paget University Hospital, University of Cambridge and University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, the researchers evaluated the link between dietary oleic acid intake and the risk of developing pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) based on diet data from food diaries and published serum biomarker data from hemoglobin A1c test, which measures the amount of blood sugar or glucose attached to hemoglobin. (Paul Jr Banim et al, Pancreatology., 2018)
Not many human studies and meta-analyses have been done previously on this topic. A total of 23,658 participants, aged 40-74 years were recruited in EPIC-Norfolk study and for 48.7% of the cohort which includes 11,147 participants, the serum hemoglobin A1c was measured at the time of the recruitment. Subsequently, after a period of around 8.4 years, 88 participants which included 55% women, were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer/ pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The findings of the study were published in 2018 in the Pancreatology Journal.
The study found that compared to those who consumed low amounts of oleic acid (a key ingredient of olive oil), there was a significant reduction in the risk of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma/cancer in those who consumed high amounts of oleic acid as part of their diet. Additionally, it was found that this reduction was more significant in those with Body Mass Index (BMI)>25 kg/m2, but not in those with BMI<25 kg/m2. The analysis of serum biomarker data from hemoglobin A1c test found that increased serum hemoglobin A1c was associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in patients.
There are additional studies where people consuming olive oil (contains oleic acid) have reduced Lynch Syndrome which is one of the hereditary risk factor for pancreatic cancer. (Henry T. Lynch, American Cancer Society, 1996)
Based on the findings from the study, the researchers concluded that oleic acid may have a protective role against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma/cancer, especially in those with higher BMIs. However, more studies are needed to confirm these findings. In any case, including moderate amounts of olive oil and other oleic acid rich foods as part of the diet may possibly help in reducing the risk pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma) including patients with hereditary factor and also help reap other health benefits of oleic acids. That said, do not consume oleic acid supplements unless advised by your healthcare provider. Avoid taking oleic acid supplements with drugs which are blood thinners, as it may cause bleeding. It should also be avoided by people with hypersensitivity. Like any other cancer, following a healthy diet, being physically active, doing regular exercises and avoiding alcohol are some of the inevitable steps we need to take to stay away from this life threatening disease.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.