Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olive Oil Study Leaves Doctors with Questions

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Olive Oil Study Leaves Doctors with Questions

Article excerpt

A study that says eating olive oil may actually lower the risk of breast cancer has a lot of skeptics saying, fat chance.

The medical community already accepts olive oil as a better dietary fat than butter, margarine or many other cooking oils.

But what upset the medical community was a suggestion that women who consume olive oil as their primary fat source could markedly lower their breast cancer risk.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the findings recently.

Experts caution against using the study as a yardstick to fighting breask cancer risk. Some even call it misleading. Gobbling up megaservings of olive oil, they say, might in some cases boost a woman's risk for breast cancer. Too much of any fat is not good. Period.

The NCI study polled hundreds of women in Greece - some of whom had breast cancer and some who did not - about their diets. Those who said they consumed olive oil at more than one meal a day had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer than those who consumed considerably less.

Skeptics note that the research spanned only one year and that people are notoriously inaccurate when they are asked to recall what they ate.

The NCI researchers asked the women to fill out questionnaires about what and how much they ate.

Those factors alone are questionable, the skeptics say.

Granted, olive oil has been shown to be better than butter and margarine with respect to cardiovascular health. "This is not the only time olive oil has surfaced as a beneficial substance in the diet. People would serve themselves well to cook in olive oil," says Dr. William Casperson, chairman of the cancer department at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.

But too much fat, no matter what the source, can contribute to heart disease and possibly to breast cancer, he says. And olive oil is still fat.

Breast cancer rates are known to be higher in the United States because American women have diets higher in total fat. Obesity is a proven health risk; breast cancer among obese women is 2. …

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