Healthcast: Breast cancer and olive oil

Most women fighting breast cancer are given prescriptions for medication, but how about for olive oil? 

A research dietitian is Rhode Island has been doing just that for years, and she claims it makes a difference. 

Mary Flynn said you can practically drink extra virgin olive oil. 

In fact, for her breast cancer patients, she prescribes at least three tablespoons per day. 

One of Flynn’s first breast cancer patients was Jean Albert, who was diagnosed 23 years ago at the age of 36. 

Albert had a lumpectomy after her 1-year-old daughter helped her discover a lump. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation and then met Flynn. 

“I had started to use olive oil a little bit, but when Mary talked to me about it I really embraced it,” Albert said. 

She learned a few things, like how cooking your veggies in extra virgin olive oil is a good thing. 

“It helps you absorb the nutrients that are actually in the vegetables,” Albert said. “I think people look at it and say, ‘Wow, it’s got a lot of calories,’ but I think of them as good calories.”

When Flynn compared a low fat diet to hers, a plant-based diet rich in olive oil, she found the breast cancer risk went down. 

“I was very surprised to find out they lost more weight with the higher olive oil diet,” Flynn said. “Also, they had lower levels of insulin, glucose and triglycerides.”

The latest olive oil research out of Spain, a five-year study, gives another stamp of approval for the nutrient-dense liquid that Flynn refers to as medicine. 

“What they found was that the women who consumed more olive oil had an enormously decreased risk of breast cancer,” Flynn said. 

Since the mid-90s, there have been a number of studies looking at the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, showing it improves memory, can prevent heart disease and that you can even lose weight by incorporating it into your diet.

(Copyright (c) 2015 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)