Garlic reduces lung cancer risk by 44%, suggests study

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Eating garlic twice a week could be key to preventing lung cancer, suggests study.
Eating garlic twice a week could be key to preventing lung cancer, suggests study.

Related tags: Lung cancer, Garlic

Consuming raw garlic could serve as a protective factor against lung cancer, even for smokers, suggests a new study by Chinese scientists.

Researchers at the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention claim to have found a protective association between the intake of raw garlic and lung cancer, advocating that, “garlic may potentially serve as a chemopreventive agent for lung cancer.”

The study suggests even smokers can reduce their risk of lung cancer by around 30% by eating raw garlic two or more times a week. Around 86% of lung cancer deaths in the UK are caused by tobacco smoking, according to Cancer Research UK. 

The researchers conducted face-to-face, standardised interviews in China with 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,543 healthy controls which aimed to find out about participants’ lifestyles and diets - in particular how much garlic they ate and whether they smoked.  

In the past garlic has been linked with cardiovascular​ and immune system health.

According to the researchers the “effective components in garlic in lung cancer chemoprevention warrant further in-depth investigation.”​  

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The researchers suggested that diallyl sulphide - a compound released when a garlic bulb sprouts into cloves - may be at the root of garlic’s preventative potential.

Diallyl sulphide is a breakdown of allicin, an antibiotic and anti-fungal compound largely depleted by cooking or pickling.

While the study concentrated primarily on garlic in its raw state, it can also be consumed in tablet, oil, powder, aged and cooked form.

Garlic (allium sativum​) is an important ingredient of Chinese medicine and can be found within many traditional herbal remedies and traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs).

Yet proclamations of these health properties can be found outside of China too. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines recommend a dose of around one clove of fresh garlic for adults per day. While garlic tablets are a licensed drug in Germany, where they are prescribed for the treatment of atherosclerosis.

According to Euromonitor International, China produced 13,719,1000 tonnes of the world's 17,789,7000 tonne supply of garlic in 2012.

Source: American Association for Cancer Research

Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0015

“Raw Garlic Consumption as a Protective Factor for Lung Cancer, a Population-Based Case–Control Study in a Chinese Population”

Authors: Zi-Yi Jin, Ming Wu, Ren-Qiang Han et al.

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