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Chopping And Cooking Affect Garlic's Anti-Cancer Activity

University Park, Pa. --- Penn State researchers have shown that microwave heating or roasting garlic can diminish or destroy its anti-cancer activity - unless the herb is chopped or crushed, and allowed to "stand" for at least 10 minutes before cooking.

Kun Song, doctoral candidate in nutrition, and Dr. John A. Milner, professor and head of the Department of Nutrition, conducted the study.

The research was the first to show that as little as one minute of microwaving or 45 minutes of oven roasting can completely block garlic's ability to retard the action of a known cancer-causing agent in rats. Garlic's anti-cancer activity was retained, however, if the herb was first chopped or crushed and allowed to stand for 10 minutes before being heated. In the case of roasted whole garlic, anti-cancer activity was partially retained if the top of the bulb was sliced off prior to heating.

Song presented the results in a poster session titled, "Heating Blocks Garlic's Protection Against 7,12 Dimethylbenz(a)anthrancene (DMBA) Induced Rat Mammary DNA Adducts," at a conference on "Recent Advances on the Nutritional Benefits Accompanying the Use of Garlic as a Supplement" at the Marriott Newport Center, Newport Beach, Calif.

The conference is a continuing and distance education service of the Penn State College of Health and Human Development Department of Nutrition in cooperation with Wakunaga of America Co. Ltd. The conference is supported by Wakunaga, National Cancer Institute and Rexall-Sundown Inc.

In a recent interview, Song said that the 10-minute "standing period" after chopping or crushing the garlic enables an enzyme naturally present in certain garlic cells to come in contact with and act on chemicals in other cells. Chopping or crushing the garlic opens the cells and enables the enzyme to start a reaction that produces chemicals called allyl sulfur compounds that possess anti-cancer properties.

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Contact: Barbara Hale
bah@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
15-Nov-1998


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