About Me

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Olive Oil Works Effectively to Fight Breast Cancer

It is very hard for women to live with breast cancer. It can happen at any time.

Here is an extract from my book 7 Wonders of  Olive oil

Slim, attractive forty-year-old Joanna answered with a smile when she heard her name called; it was her turn to go to the X-ray room. She had come for her yearly checkup at the busy Symptomatic Breast Clinic. Breast technologists have learned how to be discreet in their work; they know how vital it is to be sensitive to the anxiety of their patients when they come for their follow-up mammogram.

 It was not easy, though, to be discreet with Joanna. As she took her shirt off, you had to look, admire, and take in the stunning work of art running up the right side of her chest. Starting from her slim waist and going up to where her breast should have been was a truly magnificent tattoo: a rose shrub with vibrant green leaves, ending at the top with a magnificent pink rose. It replaced the breast Joanna once had. 

Following my gaze, she explained: “Trees are a symbol of life; this tattoo is sacred to me. After my mastectomy, I needed something to remind me that life must go on. This tattoo is 
what helps me not to be fearful of the future.”

The young patient had been diagnosed with breast cancer three years before. No one in her family had had breast cancer, yet she could not ignore the lump in her breast; it seemed to be getting bigger every day. She eventually saw her general practitioner, who referred her to a diagnostic breast unit. 

She then had to see a surgeon. After she’d had the tests, the surgeon gave her the bad news. He told her, “You have a choice: you can have either a mastectomy or a wide local excision.” Then he explained the difference. 

A mastectomy would remove her entire breast; a wide local excision would remove the cancer and some of the normal tissue around it, “but the cancer could come back,” he warned.

Joanna explained why she made the decision to have a mastectomy. “The choice sounded drastic at the time, but I did not want to leave any doubts. I could not afford to. I had to think of my family; the kids were still young.” Shockingly early to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, 

Joanna admits she had to face many challenges—the most important, she confesses, was fear. Women with breast cancer who are being treated, even those that have successfully been treated, all say the same thing—they are always haunted by fear and trepidation. They fear that the cancer will come back. The medical term for this is a “recurrence,” and it can happen five, ten, or even fifteen years after the necessary therapy. 

The treatment itself to remove or destroy the cancer is stressful whether it is done through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy; they all leave changes to the body, as well as visible scars that make women feel uncomfortable with themselves.

There’s no one single reason women get breast cancer, but it seems that several factors can contribute: genes, lifestyle, environment, and hormones are the chief risk factors, and any combination can trigger the disease.

Women over fifty are more likely to have breast cancer; that is why some countries have a breast cancer program for older women. These screening programs allow women to have mammograms— breast X-rays—either every two or three years (depending on the country) as well as free health treatment if they are diagnosed with the disease. Some women can inherit abnormal genes, which mean that their risk of developing breast cancer is much higher than someone who does not have those genes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Mediterranean Diet and Breast Cancer

Here are the results of  a study on Greek Women.

 A poor and high-fat diet seems to be one of the leading causes of breast cancer, which is much more prevalent in Western countries.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, is rich in antioxidants and contains only a small amount of animal saturated fats. This study looks specifically at the association of breast cancer and the Mediterranean diet in a Mediterranean country. 14,807 women took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), and the results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

This study looked at what the women ate; it followed their eating habits for nearly ten years.

The Greek women started the research by answering an in-depth questionnaire about their diet to see how they conformed to the Mediterranean diet. From that, they were given a score from 1 to 9. Those who adhered to typical dietary components got the high score of 9, while those with minimum adherence scored 1. At the end of the study, 240 cases of breast cancer were reported.

In their report, the researchers indicated that, in premenopausal women, there was “no significant association between conformity to the diet and breast cancer risk.” What they did find, though, was an inverse situation with postmenopausal women. They concluded that “conformity to the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Beginner's Guide to Tasting Olive Oil

Co-author of 7 Wonders of Olive Oil, Cécile Le Galliard has been tasting olive oil professionally for over five years. She says you don’t have to be an expert to recognize  good olive oil.

               When blind tasting, professional tasters use blue glasses to hide the real color of the oil 

Photo credit: Gaëlle Ferridis

Have you ever watched a professional olive oil taster blind tasting a sample of extra virgin?

Perhaps your olive oil merchant invited you to taste a few samples of olive oil -  you declined because you had no idea what to do.

 Olive oil tasting is a bit like wine tasting. You won't  get it immediately, you have to learn  what to look for and once you understand the basics you’ll start appreciating the subtle unique aroma and enjoy identifying  the different tastes.

So where do you start?

Unlike wine tasting, fresh is important - ask when the olives were pressed into oil, it'll tell you about   the quality of the oil. Try to avoid buying oils that were processed more than one year before.

Check the aroma

If it’s good olive oil, it will smell good. When you inhale your sample, you should get a fruity sensations; it could be floral or it could  remind you of green aromas. Experts always use the word fruity to describe the aroma of olive oil.  Be vigilant, don’t buy anything that smells (or taste) rancid, moldy, greasy, metallic or like cardboard.

Going deeper, you can decide whether your fruity oil is mild, strong or between the two. If the olives were picked early in the season, you might even detect aromas of herbaceous plants, grass, green olives and tomato plants.

Cupping the oil before tasting
Photo credit: Gaëlle Ferridis

Tasting the oil

Cup the container in both hands for a few minutes to warm the oil before taking in a good mouthful. You do need a good mouthful, enough so  that the oil covers the whole mouth area: not only the front of the mouth but also the sides of the tongue, the palate support, and the throat. 

Don’t swallow immediately but instead let the oil linger in your mouth for awhile. Pay attention to mouth feel, the oil should be crisp and clean.
Experts look for something they call the retro- nasal sensation. What they mean is that the aroma and flavors come together in our mouths which in turn connect with our nasal cavity at the back of the throat.

Your good quality oil will have these two qualities when you taste:


If you feel bitterness at the back of the tongue, this is a good sign; it means the oil has a lot of polyphenols,  healthy natural antioxidants contained in this pure oil.


Pungency is a stinging sensation you feel in the throat when you swallow the oil, also  a good sign showing strong polyphenol content. Did it make you cough? This is a sign of a good olive oil.

To sum up you must first smell the oil and decide if it’s pleasant and fruity. Secondly taste and look for pungency, that peppery bite when you swallow.

Above all, let tasting olive oil  be a hedonistic experience - pleasurable and fun.

Remember too that not all olive oils are fresh; keep an eye out for oils that are rancid.

Want to learn more?

 In 7 Wonders of Olive Oil, olive oil expert Cécile goes into more detail on this intriguing subject of tasting olive oil.