Another groundbreaking study lead by Professor El Sayed at the University of Louisiana showed that oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound found only in premium, high phenol olive oil, reduced the recurrence of HER2 dependent breast cancer as well as decreasing the size of other types of breast cancer tumors that appear after treatment. El Sayed’s group discovered that a daily dosage of oleocanthal, significantly fewer mice developed recurrent tumors in comparison with the control group, and those that did develop more tumors had much smaller ones.
In a follow-up study, researchers also found that oleocanthal combined with a conventional breast cancer treatment may work better than drugs alone while reducing the required dose of the medication to ¼ of the original dose (1). Siddique and colleagues compared the effects of oleocanthal, Lapatinib (a conventional treatment for breast cancer), and a combination of oleocanthal and Lapatinib, with a control group. They found that the combination therapy was most effective and significantly reduced the migration of breast cancer cells that often lead to death. This study suggests that such a combination therapy could work better than the current treatment while reducing the required dose of the medication (LP) to ¼ of the original dose.
The risk of recurrence remains a problem for breast cancer survivors and depends on a variety of factors including:
- The biology of the tumor (characteristics of the cancer cells)
- The stage at the time of the original diagnosis
- The treatments for the original cancer
For women who have a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy, the chance of local recurrence in 10 years is about 3-15 percent. The risk of local recurrence depends on tumor characteristics such as hormone receptor status and HER2 status (2). HER2-dependent, HER2-amplified, or HER2-positive are very aggressive and account for about 20% of diagnosed breast cancer cases (3). It is commonly treated with the medication Lapatinib, but tumor cells quickly become resistant to this treatment, making it hard to fight the disease. In an interview with Greek Liquid Gold, Sayid shared:
“there is no formal absolute test to predict relapse, nor a formal drug for recurrence prevention; chemotherapeutic cancer drugs are not really able to kill the dormant tumor cells that cause a relapse.” Since most of the world’s cancer survivors are now under medical surveillance following treatment, more than 12 million patients “are living with the nightmare of watching for their relapse”
Despite these promising findings, it is important to bear in mind that these studies were conducted on mice. However, the results support funding for future studies, hopefully on humans, on the link between oleocanthal and breast cancer. Second, the required dose of high phenol olive oil would equate to about 700 ml (or 142 teaspoons) per day. The extraction of pure oleocanthal from olive oil in the form of a supplement will need to be evaluated before the combination of oleocanthal and drug therapy can be considered as a viable treatment option for breast cancer patients.