Compound in Olive Oil Can Kill Cancer Cells

May 6, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. compound /ˈkɒm paʊnd/ (n.) – refers to a chemical substance made from two or more ingredients
Example: Scientists are looking for a compound in olive oil.

2. peculiar /pɪˈkyul yər/ (adj.) – referring to a trait that is distinct from others
Example: There is a peculiar relation between olive oil and human health.

3. waste /weɪst/ (n.) – something that is unused or not needed
Example: Each cell has storage for waste.

4. fragile /ˈfrædʒ əl/ (adj.) – referring to something that is easily broken
Example: Healthy cells are not as fragile as cancer cells.

5.  trigger /ˈtrɪg ər/ (v.) – to activate something
Example: The scientists used nitrogen to trigger the chemical reaction.


Read the text below.
A compound found only in extra virgin olive oil, called oleocanthal [OH-li-yo-cant-thal], has been discovered to kill cancer cells.

Researchers David Foster, Onica LeGendre [luh-ZHAHN-druh], and Professor Paul Breslin published their findings about the compound’s peculiar reaction to cancer cells in the Molecular and Cellular Oncology journal. They found out that the compound could poke holes in the cancer cells’ waste sac. The cells then die after the waste spills and spreads through them.

The researchers also noted that the compound only targets cancer cells, which have waste sacs that are more fragile and easier to puncture than those of healthy cells. They also observed that the compound did not harm healthy cells but only put them to sleep for a day.

Other scientists have known that the compound kills cancer cells. The researchers originally conducted the study to determine if oleocanthal can trigger a “cell death.” It is the process of destroying the protein in the cell, causing it to die within 16 to 24 hours. However, when oleocanthal was applied in the study, the cell’s death took only about an hour.

Studies on how the compound reacts to cancer cells in living animals will be the team’s next action.

Olive oil has been well-known for its health benefits. It can slow down the ageing of the heart, keep bones strong, and reduce the risk of mental illness. People who regularly consume olive oil, like those from Mediterranean countries like Spain and France, are considered to have healthy diets. In 2003, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the Mediterranean diet helps prevent heart disease and other health problems.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         After reading the article, would you consider adding olive oil to your diet? Why or why not?
·         Aside from olive oil, what other food is good for the health?

Discussion B

·         In Japan, do people prioritize health? How do you say so?
·         Aside from proper diet, how else do you keep your body healthy? Kindly discuss.

May 6, 2015