Garlic in Prostate Cancer Prevention
Can garlic help prevent and fight prostate cancer, the most common non-skin cancer in America? Several studies suggest garlic and garlic supplements offer protection against cancer, including prostate cancer. These anti-cancer effects are thought to be largely attributable to organosulphur compounds which are produced during the decomposition of allicin. Allicin, in turn, is formed in raw garlic cloves when you crush or chop them.
Additionally, garlic – especially raw garlic – is rich in vitamin C, a nutrient that has been used to prevent and treat prostate cancer.
The rest of this article provides details of recent studies that have been carried out to investigate a possible link between eating garlic and a lowered risk of prostate cancer:
A population-based, case-control study conducted in Shanghai, China, found that men who ate more than 10 grams of Allium vegetables, particularly garlic and scallions, per day were 50% less likely to get prostate cancer than those who ate only a little bit of garlic. The reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with garlic consumption was independent of total caloric intake, body size, and consumption of other foods. This study appeared in the November 2002 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
In another case-control study, a group of researchers from Oxford asked 328 men diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 75 and 328 controls to provide details of their dietary habits. The controls were matched for age. Garlic and garlic supplements, along with a few other foods such as beans and peas, were found to have a protective effect against prostate cancer. This study was published in the renowned British Journal of Cancer in 1997.
However, not all case-control studies support the theory that garlic helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A large 2006 study that analyzed dietary data from a number of Italian and Swiss case-control studies found a significant association between high garlic consumption and a reduced risk of several cancers, but not of prostate cancer. The scientists responsible for this study believe that in case of prostate cancer, hormonal factors may play a bigger role in the development of the disease than dietary factors. This study on garlic and cancer was published in the November 2006 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The Bottom Line
Some studies suggest that garlic can indeed help prevent and fight prostate cancer, while other studies imply that garlic does not have a significant protective effect against prostate cancer. However, there are numerous studies that show that a diet rich in garlic is good for your overall health and vitality, and that eating garlic regularly can reduce the risk of several types of cancer including stomach, mouth and throat, kidney, and colorectal cancers. This evidence supports the idea of including garlic in an anti-prostate-cancer diet (or almost any other diet aimed at improving health).
1. Hsing AW, Chokkalingam AP, Gao YT, et al (2002). Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: A population-based study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 94(21):1648-1651.
2. Key T.J., Silcocks, Davey, Appleby, and Bishop (1997). A case-control study of diet and prostate cancer. British Journal of Cancer, 76(5), 678-687
3. Galeone C, Pelucchi, Levi, Negri, Franceschi, Talamini, Giacosa, La Vecchia (2006). Onion and garlic use and human cancer. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 84(5), 1027-32.
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