Beneficial dietary erucic acid?

A 2022 review to follow up Caution on broccoli seed erucic acid content?:

“Erucic acid is found to cause cardiac lipidosis in young animals, yet direct evidence of cardiac injury does not exist for young humans. Concerns about erucic acid safety and cardiotoxicity have been published in the press which are based on scientific reports in the 1970s that erucic acid disrupted oxidative phosphorylation and lead to accumulation of lipids in rat cardiac tissue.

Spanish toxic oil syndrome was a major concern, leading to questions about erucic acid cardiotoxicity. Yet it was found that not rapeseed oil per se, rather its carcinogen anilin-dye refined derivative caused cardiotoxicity.

Later, it was understood that reduced ATP production with erucic acid treatment was due to unapt isolation of rat cardiac mitochondria and lipid accumulation that was unique to rats that inherently harbour a low β-oxidative peroxisomal activity and tissue-specific metabolism of erucic acid. Similar structural or metabolic perturbations and tissue injuries were not encountered in monkeys, humans, and pigs.

Potential mechanisms regarding antineoplastic effects of erucic acid in brain tumors:

erucic acid

In children (0 to 14 years), medulloblastomas accounted for less than 10% of brain neoplasias in China, African countries, and Ireland. The ratio was in the range 20%–29% in Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Korea and Poland, the proportion was 30% in Ecuador, 31% in Taiwan and Jordan.

In adults, the ratio of brain neoplasias diagnosed as glioblastoma was:

  • Below 10% only in China;
  • In the range 10%–29% in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria, Algeria, Malta, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Russian Federation;
  • In the range 30%–49% in some South American countries, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Turkey, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, and Spain among others; and
  • In the range 50%–70% in North America, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, Kuwait, and in Oceania.

The low ratio of medulloblastomas in children and of glioblastomas in adult Chinese population cannot be easily attributed to a single genetic and nurture pattern. Very likely, many complex factors interact to explain this difference regarding the Chinese population.

Several hypotheses can be put forward to illuminate the cause of reduced ratios of high grade brain tumors in Chinese which would be of benefit for global reduction and prevention of brain tumors. Erucic acid is very highly consumed in the Chinese diet, and 8-fold higher erucic acid levels exist in Chinese women’s milk in comparison to many other countries.

We hypothesized that dietary erucic acid may be – at least among many factors – associated with reduced ratios of high grade brain tumors in Chinese. If epidemiological and animal studies would prove such an association, an effective, cheap, and relatively non-toxic dietary supplementary strategy may be employed to prevent brain tumors at erucic acid doses lower than those associated with any cardiotoxic effects.”

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11011-022-01022-4 “Could dietary erucic acid lower risk of brain tumors? An epidemiological look to Chinese population with implications for prevention and treatment” (not freely available) Thanks to Dr. Meric Altinoz for providing a copy.


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