Benefits of Garlic in Cancer

Written By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Founding Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Health benefits of garlic are often reported. The most commonly known benefits of garlic are its potential role in heart disease and cancer. Indeed, the first scientific report to study garlic and cancer was performed in the 1950s. Scientists injected allicin, an active ingredient from garlic, into mice suffering from cancer. Mice receiving the injection survived more than 6 months whereas those which did not receive the injection only survived 2 months.

Benefits of Garlic: Cancer Prevention

Many studies showed that the organic ingredient of garlic, allyl sulfur, another active ingredient in garlic, are effective in inhibiting or preventing cancer development. Many observational studies in human being also investigated the association of using garlic and allyl sulfur and cancer. Out of the 37 studies, 28 studies showed evidence that garlic can prevent cancer. The evidence is particularly strong in prevention of prostate and stomach cancers. This particular study looking at the risk of stomach cancer was especially interesting. This study was conducted in China. Researchers found that smokers with high garlic intake have a relatively lower stomach cancer risk than smokers with low garlic intake.

A large-scale epidemiological Iowa Women’s Health Study looked at the garlic consumption in 41,000 middle-aged women. Results showed that women who regularly consumed garlic had 35% lower risk of developing colon cancer.

It is thought that the allyl sulfur compounds in garlic prevent cancer by slowing or preventing the growth of the cancer tumor cells.

Garlic Key Message: In order to maximize the health benefits of garlic, it is suggested to wait 15 minutes between peeling and cooking garlic to allow the enzymatic reaction to occur to retain some health benefits of garlic. If you use garlic supplements, use the enteric coated tablets so that the healthy ingredients can survive the stomach and be absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestines Please be cautious if you are taking garlic supplements and blood thinners such as aspirin and warfarin at the same time. Garlic supplements will further thin your blood. In addition, it is suggested to discontinue garlic supplementation at least 7 days prior to surgery.


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