Chapel Hill - Garlic might not make breath smell like springtime in the Alps, but it can help protect against stomach and colorectal cancer, according to a new study.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows that people who consume raw or cooked garlic regularly face about half the risk of stomach cancer and two-thirds the risk of colorectal cancer as people who eat little or none.
"There seems to be a strong, consistent protective effect for people who are regular garlic consumers," said Dr. Lenore Arab, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the UNC-CH schools of public health and medicine. "It doesn't matter if they're consuming garlic in China or in the United States, the effect is still there."
UNC-CH researchers could not show similar benefits from taking garlic supplements, however, said Arab, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. They do not know why.
A report on the findings appears in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a professional journal. Besides Arab, authors are graduate student Aaron T. Fleischauer and Dr. Charles Poole, associate professor of epidemiology.
Their study was a meta-analysis, a mathematical combination of numerous other studies to develop a clearer picture of such issues as cancer and heart disease. They reviewed 300 scientific papers related to diet and cancer and then combined and analyzed data from 22 describing the best, most relevant human research related to garlic from around the world.
"We've looked at garlic in the past and thought the findings looked overwhelmingly consistent," Arab said. "Here we took a formal approach to pooling the data from various studies done in Argentina, China, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other countries. We had a very good diversity of countries represented."
Previous research has shown that a compound in garlic called allium partially protects animals against cancer, and some scientists be
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill