Garlic is particularly protective in stomach, gastric and colon cancers, although across several epidemological studies, it has been linked to reduced rates of a wider range of cancers, from lung to oesophageal.
For example, in the Iowa Women´s Health Study (USA -Steinmetz 1994) of 127 foods, tested with 41,387 women, garlic was the only fruit or vegetable that produced an effect; one or more serving of fresh garlic a week was linked with 35% less colon cancer and 50% less distal colon cancer.
In a 1998 study in China (You et al) people taking large quanties of garlic every day had less than half the cancers of those taking only a little.
The bad news is that fresh, chopped or squeezed garlic is essential. Cooking ruins the effect and, in tests, some garlic pills are pretty useless.
Although many reports talk about the active ingredient of garlic being allicin, other potential anti-cancer agents appear to be produced on cutting or crushing. They include alliin and the enzyme alliinase. It is possible that allicin works as an antioxidant, and it is certainly effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Allicin is also a very strong natural weapon against infection, particularly bacteria, viruses, yeasts and intestinal amoeba. By eradicating them it could help the fight against cancer in several indirect ways.
Laboratory research has also shown that one garlic component, called diallyl disulfide, exerts potent preventive effects against cancers of the skin, colon and lung. Recently, this compound proved able to kill leukemia cells in the laboratory. A compound derived from garlic called ajoene has displayed similar activity.
Fresh, chopped or squeezed garlic is essential
These enemies of the body use up vitamins and minerals, especially B Vitamins like folic acid, choline and inositol, crucial to DNA replication and the immune system. Amoeba produce toxic nitrates; parasites produce toxins like aflatoxin B, both of which poison cells. Allicin interferes with enzymes necessary for the growth of these infectious organisms and also enhances a liver enzyme, which detoxifies aflatoxins before they cause damage.
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Allicin thus helps ward off infection and allows the body´s natural defences to be stronger. Alliinase seems to promote this action and in tests, allicin has been shown to inhibit cancers of the breast, liver and colon. Allicin appears to bind to breast cell receptor sites preventing the action of cancer agents. Prostate cells exposed to the garlic chemical SAMC grow at only 25% of the normal rate.
Garlic also seems to protect the body against the side effects of radiotherapy, particularly DNA and chromosome damage.
Professor Wargovich of the University of Texas has been working with two other active ingredients: dialysulphide and S-allylcysteine. These have been shown to reduce animal cancers by 50 to 75 per cent and, in another test on animal cells, to totally protect against a deliberate attempt to induce a particularly virulent oesophageal cancer.
Finally, there are two other possible routes for cancer protection:
It is an excellent and very powerful neutraliser of free radicals
* Garlic contains quite good levels of selenium and, in several studies, selenium has been shown to reduce cancers by 20%.
* Garlic also contains good levels of tryptophan, which is the precursor of seratonin, which in turn is the precursor of melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the brain about one hour after falling asleep. It is an excellent and very powerful neutraliser of free radicals. However, its production declines with age from a maximum at puberty to virtually nil at age 70, which in part explains why more cancers occur later in life. However, precursors are known to stimulate its production, even in people of advancing years.
So find a way to incorporate garlic into your diet. There are hundrends of recipes available on the internet as well as specific cook books for preparing and cooking garlic in various forms.