A new study from the University of Edinburgh revealed that a certain compound found in olive oil has the ability to prevent cancer from developing in the brain.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Biology, showed that the compound known as oleic acid can support the production of a certain cell molecule that helps prevent cancer-causing genes from functioning in the cells.

"Our findings do suggest that oleic acid can support the production of tumour-suppressing molecules in cells grown in the lab," said lead author Dr. Gracjan Michlewski of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences in a press release. "Further studies could help determine the role that olive oil might have in brain health."

For the study, the researchers used human cell extracts and living cells in the lab to investigated the potential effect of oleic acid to the cell molecule miR-7. Oleic acid is an oily substance included in the group of nutrients known as fatty acids. The miRs or microRNAs are known for their role in governing cell function. miR-7 is active in the brain and helps in suppressing cancer-causing proteins from forming.

The researchers found that oleic acid has some kind of influence over the cell protein MSI2, preventing it from stopping the production of miR-7. In this way, the oily substance supports the production of miR-7, which helps prevents the formation of tumors.

Despite their positive findings, the researchers noted that it is still too soon to confirm whether dietary consumption of olive oil can help prevent brain cancers. However, the results of their study could pave the way for the development of new therapies based on the cancer-preventing compounds in olive oils.

Olive oil is the liquid fat extracted from whole olives. This kind of oil is considered to be a key component of the so-called Mediterranean diet. Previous studies suggest that olive oil is responsible for the lower incidence of heart disease associated with the Mediterranean diet. Regular consumption of olive oil has also been linked with reduced risk of all-cause mortality and several chronic diseases.