Palm Oil can Spread Cancer (Study Finds) 😮

Key Highlights

  • Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the world.
  • 90% of the cancer deaths are caused by metastasis.
  • A new study found that palm oil can spread cancer cells or tumor cells.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. [1]

10 million people die from cancer every year. [1]

What is more shocking is that about 90% of the cancer deaths are caused by metastasis or cancer spreading. [2]

A new study was found that palm oil can spread cancer cells or tumor cells to surrounding tissues and to distant organs. 😮

Let’s dig deep into it. 🧐

Table of Contents

The Study Process

The research was published in the journal Nature and part-funded by the UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research. [3]

For this research, scientists from IRB Barcelona, Spain, implanted oral tumors and melanoma cells to a group of mice. 🐁

These mice were fed with a diet rich in palmitic acid for a short period of time.

The Result of this Study

Researchers found that palmitic acid can increase the ability of tumor cells to metastasize, even when this type of diet was administered to the animals for a short period of time.

They also found that this reaction can occur even if a palmitic acid rich diet is consumed at a very early stage of the disease or the primary tumor has not even been detected. 😮

But this doesn’t happen with oleic acid (commonly found in olive oil) or linoleic acid (commonly found in linseed). 😃 

Cancer Cells, Palm Oil can Spread Cancer
Cancer cells can spread and develop to different places in the body.

How Palm Oil can Spread Cancer?

According to the researchers, palmitic acid found in palm oil, can modify the genome of metastatic cells (which are known as epigenetic modifications) , are permanent and stably maintain the most “aggressive” properties.

To trigger a metastasis, the tumor cell first detaches from the original tumor and penetrates the blood or lymphatic vessels to reach and develop in another organ.

The study suggested that exposure to palmitic acid caused changes to the function of genes in cancer cells that allowed them to sense fatty acids and consume them more efficiently. 😮

The presence of palmitic acid also appeared to send cancer cells into a “regenerative state” allowing them to form signalling networks beyond the tumour, which is known to be a crucial step towards spreading.

The so-called Schwann cells surround and protect neurons and are a key factor in the formation of this neural network and research has shown that blocking Schwann cells inhibits the formation of this nerve network, and it does not occur. metastasis.

Researchers Note

Professor Salvador Aznar-Benitah, senior group leader at IRB Barcelona and ICREA research professor, and senior author of the paper, said: “I think it is too early to determine which type of diet could be consumed by patients with metastatic cancer that would slow down the metastatic process.

“That said, based on our results one would think that a diet poor in palmitic acid could be effective in slowing down the metastatic process, but much more work is needed to determine this.

“We are not concentrating on this direction of research, instead we are focusing on new potential therapeutic targets that we could inhibit and that could have a real therapeutic benefit for the patient irrespective of their diet.”

The Final Word

Palm oil comes from palm trees native to Africa, where it has been consumed for thousands of years. [4]

Many scientific studies found that it is safe for some people while bad for many. [5]😮

So, since you get similar health benefits from other oils, it’s probably best to prefer other oils for most of your daily needs. 😃


This article is written by a certified nutritionist and verified by scientific evidence. ☑️

We rely on reputed and specialized media sites, academic research institutions, peer-reviewed studies, government agencies, and medical associations to source information. 📰

We avoid using tertiary references. Know more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. 🧐

Following are the references of this article.

  1. World Cancer Day: What is Cancer? Accessed 14 November 2021.[][]
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): On the Origin of Cancer Metastasis. Accessed 14 November 2021.[]
  3. Nature: Dietary palmitic acid promotes a prometastatic memory via Schwann cells. Accessed 14 November 2021.[]
  4. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): 4. The African oil palm. Accessed 14 November 2021.[]
  5. WebMD: Palm Oil. Accessed 14 November 2021.[]

About the Author

A. R. Choudhury, ARChoudhuryMSc,

A. R. Choudhury is a IGNOU certified nutritionist in India with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biochemistry.

He also has considerable research experience and additional certificates in nutrition. 👍

Abdur started NutritionCrown in 2020 to organize nutrition information under one umbrella. ☂️

He is passionate about empowering people to make well-informed food choices to support their health.

Abdur currently lives in India and keeps fit by weight training and eating mainly home-cooked meals. 💪 🥗

Category: Nutrition News
Tag: Food