Garlic (Allium sativum) is a bulb-shaped vegetable that may help lower cancer risk of various forms such as colon, breast, stomach, esophagus and pancreatic cancers. The National Cancer Institute recognizes garlic as an anti-cancer agent. This protective action comes from garlic’s antibacterial properties, blocking the production and activation of cancer-causing compounds, boost DNA repair, ability to induce cell death or lower cell proliferation.
A study consisting of seven populations showed an association between higher garlic intake (raw or cooked) and lower risk of colorectal and stomach cancer. Another multinational study conducted by EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) shows that increased intake of garlic, as well as onion, lowered intestinal cancer risk. Another study, Iowa Women’s Study examines the effect of nutrition and fat distribution in the human body. It was found that fifty percent lower risk of colon cancer (distal) was observed in women who ingested the highest quantity of garlic.
Studies from China demonstrate the link between frequent intake of garlic, onions, and chives, and lower the risk of esophageal and stomach cancers. In one particular study, more than 10 grams of allium vegetable intake per day versus 2.2 grams per day, showed a 50 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer. Another study from the San Francisco Bay area asserted a 54% lower risk of pancreatic cancer in people whose garlic intake was higher. A study from France also demonstrated a significant decrease of breast cancer risk with greater garlic, onion and fiber intake, while considering other risk factors like total calories intake.
In a clinical study, 5,000 Chinese men and women with high stomach cancer risk were given 200 mg synthetic allitridum (garlic extract) every day and selenium (100mg) every other day along with a placebo for 5 years. The group which received selenium and allitridum showed 52% low risk of stomach cancer and 33% for all tumors combined as compared to the group which only took the placebo.
However, excessive garlic intake should be avoided as it may cause body odor, allergies, can interfere with other prescribed drugs, thinning of blood, heartburn and chemical burns (if applied to the skin). Hence, your general practitioner’s advice is a must before taking any such step.