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Olive Leaf Compound May Halt Mesothelioma Growth

olive treeAmericans have long envied the longevity of Europeans along the Mediterranean Sea. Their good health has been attributed to their healthy lifestyle and their diet, known as the Mediterranean diet, of fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and an occasional indulgence in a glass of red wine. Now, new research suggests that one aspect of the Mediterranean diet – an olive compound – may benefit patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. 

Researchers from Italy found that oleuropein, an ingredient found in olive leaves, inhibits cell growth in malignant mesothelioma cells by disrupting cellular pathways and inhibiting calcium activity. The compound is reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as antiproliferative activities on cancer cell lines and anti-tumor effects in animals.

Mesothelioma is notoriously difficult to treat and is resistant to many cancer treatments. One reason that pleural mesothelioma, a pulmonary cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust, is difficult to treat is that regardless of the therapy used the cancer almost always recurs locally. The resistance of mesothelioma to treatment is due to its apoptotic defect, which prevents the medicines from killing the cancer cells allowing them to continue to grow and divide.

Continued research into novel therapies is critical for finding a new, effective treatment. The researchers report “there is a growing interest in the anticancer action of natural substances, some of which are present in large amounts in byproducts from agrofood chains.” They report that there is an abundance of olive leaves from olive tree pruning, of which much is simply disposed of by olive tree growers. The ingredient can be extracted from the leaves after air-drying for just one week.

The researchers tested an oleuropein-enriched extract as well as a standard “dose” of oleuropein, and found that both strengths “displayed a significant antiproliferative effect” on mesothelioma cells.

The researchers concluded, “Data suggest that our oleuropein-enriched fraction from olive leaf extract could have pharmacological application in malignant mesothelioma anticancer therapy.”

Mesothelioma is diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. Currently, there is no cure for the cancer although patient survival can be increased through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

The study was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 7 years. Follow Nancy on Google+

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