Garlic, onions and other members of the allium genus, such as leeks, chives, scallions and shallots, have been shown to have antimicrobial, radioprotective, antithrombotic, hypolipidaemic, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritic and hypoglycemic effects, as well as improving immune function. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated an association between increased consumption of allium vegetables and a reduction in many different types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, endometrium, stomach, colon, bladder, esophagus, larynx, mouth, ovary, and liver, as well as melanoma, acute myeloid leukemia, and childhood acute leukemia.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating garlic
Numerous studies have shown that garlic and its components inhibits proliferation, reduces migration and invasiveness, and induces apoptosis of cultured human breast cancer cells. Garlic has been shown to decrease DNA strand breaks induced by carcinogens, inhibit DNA and RNA synthesis and protein folding in breast cancer cells, retard the growth of breast cancer cells by causing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, and suppress angiogenesis.
One large European study found that eating onions and garlic was associated with lower risk of breast cancer. Another large Italian population study found a relationship between the consumption of increasing intake of flavones and flavonols found in allium vegetables and a reduction in the risk of breast cancer. A Korean study found an association between onion and garlic consumption and lower incidence of breast cancer.
Garlic contains various substances reported to have anti-breast cancer effects, including ajoene, apigenin, enterolactone, allicin and the related compounds diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide.
Postmenopausal women with breast cancer and a high intake of the lignan enterolactone have been found to be less likely to die from their breast cancer than those with a low intake. Enterolactone has also been found to increase the sensitivity of breast cancer cells to radiation, thereby potentially enhancing the treatment effects of radiotherapy.
Garlic is a good source of apigenin, which has been shown to increase the effectiveness of Taxol (paclitaxel). Apigenin has also been shown to inhibit the growth of patient-derived triple negative (ER-/PR-/HER2-) organoids and sensitize triple negative cells to Adriamycin chemotherapy. Garlic has also been demonstrated to have protective effects against Adriamycin-induced heart damage.
The anti-carcinogenic effect of allium vegetables is attributed in part to organosulfur compounds, which are generated upon cutting or chewing of these vegetables. Although some of the anticancer benefits of garlic are retained after cooking or processing it, raw garlic appears to have the most benefits. Raw and processed garlic should both be purchased organically grown.
Below are links to recent studies concerning garlic. For a more complete list, please click on garlic.