Palm Oil and Cancer

It is now increasingly acknowledged that diet and nutrition may significantly influence cancer development and dietary fats may be implicated in promoting certain types of cancer.

Experimental studies on animals have consistently shown that certain types of cancer develop more readily with a high fat diet. Polyunsaturated fats have been shown to enhance tumour growth more strongly than saturated ones. It must be emphasized however, that the amount of fat consumed is the primary factor.

On the other hand, certain minor components of foods have been identified as the possible ant

i-cancer agents and these include vitamin A and related compounds, including carotenoids, vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) and trace elements such as selenium. Of the compounds often speculated as anti-cancer agents, palm tocotrienols have shown much promise. Studies on whole animal models suggest an inhibitory effect on cancer progression by palm oil enriched diets.

This has been narrowed down to the role of the palm tocotrienols and reconfirmed by using cell-culture systems. Palm tocotrienols hindered the proliferation of human breast cancer cells either on its own or in association with the drug tamoxifen. Recent studies have also suggested that carotenoids, both alpha and beta-carotene, present in crude and red palm oil may also act as anti-cancer agents.

It is fortunate that the carotenoids and vitamin E co-exist in natural foods. Crude palm oil is a rich source of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) and of vitamin E. However, it should be noted that refined palm oil (as is the case with most other refined oils) has its carotene destroyed by heat. Perhaps, the native people of Nigeria and Angola who consume crude palm oil know something we did not. The more important health and nutritional attributes of palm oil, as reported at several international conferences, can be found in some of the leading nutrition journals (see Recommended Readings section).

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *