Friday, December 29, 2006

Olive Oil Fights Cancer, Saves World

tidbits that tantalize

Ms. Oyl, Founder-

Order of The Olive

circa 1936

It's a proud day for Dr. Paulson and his colleagues at FASEB, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The agonizing years of laboring in total obscurity are beginning to payoff. It started simply enough, with the cholesterol lowering benefits of olive oil first ushering the cause out of the shadows. Then, in a dizzying decade of dominion, the trans fat ban raced across the globe, the very word margarine was stricken from the history texts and the humble olive, sans branches, became the official global symbol of modern mankind.

The ubiquitous olives are indeed the oil that lubricates the cogs of the nations' machinery. Lowering bad cholesterol, raising the good, fighting multiple forms of cancer... Is there no problem beyond the reach of the magical oil?

These are heady days, to be sure. As Dr. Paulson stands on the dais, reveling in the festivities of the Feast of Olives, his only disappointment is the failure by some to understand. Recent news reports charging he and his colleagues wield too much power are misplaced. They fail to comprehend the great service his group provides to all mankind and, in the most cutting of insults, refer to FASEB as an ill-conceived dictatorship. Dr. Paulson, though saddened, is resolute. While he understands the concerns over the concentration of power, he prefers to think of FASEB as a beneficent oligarchy - perhaps, even an olivegarchy. Hmm...

In the real world, Dr. Paulson and his cohorts studied the impact of olive oil on a group of healthy men between the ages of twenty and sixty. For a two-week period one group of men consumed a quarter cup of olive oil each day. This group showed a reduction of a substance, 8oxodG, that indicates oxidative damage to cells. The reduction of oxidative damage foretells a lower incidence of eventual cancers.

While previous studies have pointed to the antioxidant effects of the olive's phenol compounds, this study found no such link. Researchers used three different olive oils, with varying levels of phenols, and found no difference in the beneficial reduction of oxidative damage. The scientists theorize the monounsaturated fats are the primary compounds responsible for the healthy effect.

The group points to the results as a confirmation of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil. They believe their findings shed light on the lower incidence of breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers among inhabitants of Mediterranean countries than among natives of Northern European countries.

Ah, quiet now - the official presentation ceremony is about to begin. Dr. Paulson straightens his tie, takes a calming breath. Though he's anticipated this day for months, he finds himself deeply moved. Such humble beginnings, and now this. Today, he will be sworn in as the Overseer of the Order of the Olive - he is most proud...

To read more about the beneficial health effects of olive oil, see this from the Harvard School of Public Health.


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