A long-term consumption of sunflower oil may negatively affect our liver

A long-term consumption of sunflower oil may negatively affect our liver

2018/23/01 - An international team of scientists, led by the University of Granada (UGR), has shown that a long-term consumption of sunflower oil or fish oil over time negatively affects the liver and causes a series of alterations that can develop into a Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NASH). Virgin olive oil, on the contrary, is the "healthiest" option for the maintenance of this organ, according to the research, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The NASH is a very important liver disease that can be the prelude to processes such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, in the case of fatty inflammation of the liver that is not due to alcoholic habit. Its prevalence in the general population increases with age: it affects 1-3% in children, 5% in adolescents, 18% between 20 and 40 years, 39% between 40 and 50 years and more than 40% in adults over 70, according to the University of Granada.

In this work, researchers have analyzed how does virgin olive oil, sunflower or fish oil affect the liver in a daily diet throughout life. To do this, the UGR researchers carried out a series of very complete tests that included pathological anatomy studies, ultrastructural analysis by electron microscopy, very sophisticated techniques of bioenergetics, determination of telomere length, oxidative stress and, above all, a study of the complete hepatic genome of rats to see how it has evolved with nutrition.

The main author of this research project, the professor of Physiology of the UGR José Luis Quiles Morales explains that "what has been demonstrated is that as you age fat accumulates in the liver, but the most striking is that the type of fat that accumulates is different depending on the diet and this means that, despite this accumulation, some livers reach the old age healthier than others and with a greater or lesser predisposition to suffer certain diseases.

Liver Disorders
Thus, of the three fats (virgin olive oil, sunflower oil and fish oil) studied, the one that best preservs the liver throughout life is virgin olive oil, observing that sunflower oil induces fibrosis, ultrastructural alterations, blocking at the level of gene expression and a high degree of oxidation.

For its part, fish oil, in addition to intensifying the oxidation associated with aging, reduces the activity of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and alters the relative length of the telomeres -the ends of the chromosomes whose shortening can lead to the aging of our cells and its lengthening, to cancer.-

"The alterations caused by prolonged consumption of both sunflower oil and fish oil condition the liver to suffer from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a very relevant liver disease because it can be the prelude to processes such as liver cirrhosis or carcinoma," points out Quiles, who highlights that, in the light of the results, "virgin olive oil is the healthiest option, something already verified in relation to various aspects of our health."

What is really new in this study is that we have been able to "demonstrate, through what mechanisms virgin olive oil exerts those beneficial effects and the reasons why its is dangerous to abuse of other fat sources. We think that the study can be very useful in order to prevent or treat various liver pathologies," says Quiles.

In this work, researchers from the Hospital Complex of Jaén, the Università Politecnica delle Marche (Ancona, Italy), the Pfizer Center-University of Granada-Andalusia Board of Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO) and the National Cancer Institute of the United States have also participated, according to the UGR.

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