Yes, cancer is adamant and ruthless, but what we forget is that the human body is equally resilient and better evolved. Early diagnosis of the disease and intervention can not only improve treatment and survival rates, it can also prevent/stop the spread of cancer, which can be achieved by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Preventing Cancer Naturally With Food
Modern diets are becoming increasingly contaminated with processed foods loaded with unhealthy fats, preservatives and artificial additives. Many of these food additives are known carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer.

Health and wellness experts across the world agree that the best way to reduce cancer risk is by eating a whole, nutrient-dense diet rich with cancer-fighting foods. Packed with essential antioxidants and phytochemicals, several foods and herbs have been studied to possess cancer-fighting properties. One such ingredient with strong anticancer activity is garlic.

Cancer & Garlic
One of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, the medicinal properties of garlic have been explored and harnessed for centuries. Most celebrated for its heart-healthy benefits, garlic is packed with antimicrobial, analgesic, antithrombotic and cholesterol-lowering properties.

Garlic has also been under the spotlight recently for its effectiveness in fighting cancer.[1] The chemopreventive activity of garlic has been highlighted by several studies, which have used different garlic preparations including fresh garlic extract, aged garlic, garlic oil and a number of organosulfur compounds derived from garlic.[2]

While the mechanism through which the organosulfur compounds present in garlic exhibit their anticancer properties is not fully understood, the American Institute for Cancer Research has funded several studies to identify the specific compounds present in garlic and their cancer-fighting properties.

  • S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercapto-L-cysteine, the two major compounds present in aged garlic, have high free radical-scavenging activity (antioxidant activity). [3] These and other compounds derived from garlic can collectively retard the growth and proliferation of cancerous tissues[4].
  • Allicin, alliin and allyl sulfides have the ability to slow or stop the growth of tumors in prostate [5], bladder [6], colon [7] and stomach tissues [10] in laboratory studies.
  • Another component, diallyl disulfide, has been found to exert potent preventive effects against cancers of the skin [8], colon [7], breast [9] and lung.
  • Population-based clinical trials have also been able to highlight the effectiveness of garlic and its extracts in conferring protection against several types of cancers. [10,11] Here’s a guide that talks about the other health benefits of garlic.

The Side Effects
Yes, garlic has multiple health benefits, but that doesn’t mean you eat garlic in excessive quantities. While you can add a clove or two to your soups and curries, never have more than four cloves in a day.

  • The American Cancer society cautions that garlic may affect the way your liver eliminates drugs
  • Garlic has blood-thinning properties and should be ingested in a controlled manner by pregnant women and people who are on blood thinners
  • Always speak to your doctor before consuming garlic or any other natural remedies

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page. Read more about Natural Remedies here.

Read More:
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1. Fleischauer AT, Arab L. Garlic and cancer: a critical review of the epidemiologic literature. J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):1032S-40S. Review. PubMed PMID: 11238811.

2. Omar SH, Al-Wabel NA. Organosulfur compounds and possible mechanism of garlic in cancer. Saudi Pharm J. 2010 Jan;18(1):51-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2009.12.007.Epub 2009 Dec 24. PubMed PMID: 23960721; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3731019.

3. Thomson M, Ali M. Garlic [Allium sativum]: a review of its potential use as an anti-cancer agent. Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2003 Feb;3(1):67-81. Review. PubMed PMID: 12570662.

4. Dorant E, van den Brandt PA, Goldbohm RA, Hermus RJ, Sturmans F. Garlic and its significance for the prevention of cancer in humans: a critical view. Br J Cancer. 1993 Mar;67(3):424-9. Review. PubMed PMID: 8439494; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC1968250.

5. Arunkumar A, Vijayababu MR, Kanagaraj P, Balasubramanian K, Aruldhas MM, Arunakaran J. Growth suppressing effect of garlic compound diallyl disulfide on prostate cancer cell line (PC-3) in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Apr;28(4):740-3.PubMed PMID: 15802821.

6. Lamm DL, Riggs DR. The potential application of Allium sativum (garlic) for the treatment of bladder cancer. Urol Clin North Am. 2000 Feb;27(1):157-62, xi.Review. PubMed PMID: 10696254.

7. Bat-Chen W, Golan T, Peri I, Ludmer Z, Schwartz B. Allicin purified from fresh garlic cloves induces apoptosis in colon cancer cells via Nrf2. Nutr Cancer.2010;62(7):947-57. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2010.509837. PubMed PMID: 20924970.

8. Wang HC, Pao J, Lin SY, Sheen LY. Molecular mechanisms of garlic-derived allyl sulfides in the inhibition of skin cancer progression. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2012 Oct;1271:44-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06743.x. Review. PubMed PMID: 23050963; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3499657.

9. Tsubura A, Lai YC, Kuwata M, Uehara N, Yoshizawa K. Anticancer effects of garlic and garlic-derived compounds for breast cancer control. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2011 Mar;11(3):249-53. Review. PubMed PMID: 21269259.

10. Jin ZY, Wu M, Han RQ, Zhang XF, Wang XS, Liu AM, Zhou JY, Lu QY, Zhang ZF,Zhao JK. Raw garlic consumption as a protective factor for lung cancer, a population-based case-control study in a Chinese population. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013 Jul;6(7):711-8. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0015. Epub 2013 May 8. PubMed PMID: 23658367; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3718302.

11. Hosseini A, Ghorbani A. Cancer therapy with phytochemicals: evidence from clinical studies. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2015 Mar-Apr;5(2):84-97. Review. PubMed PMID: 25949949; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4418057.

With a Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Exeter,UK and a diploma in food science & quality control, Stephlina is intrigued with the intricacies of the human body. She shares a deep interest in human diseases and believes that popping pills is not the only solution to fight an ailment.