"Garlic has been shown to help our white blood cells not only defend us against cancer, but also to increase our ability to destroy tumors ... Garlic has been found to stimulate inteferon production, enhance natural killer cells, stop tumor growth, and even reduce the associated pain of cancer. Most of the research has been done on cancers of the digestive tract." -- Dr Shulze "The pharmacologic properties of ajoene, the major sulfur-containing compound purified from garlic, and its possible role in the prevention and treatment of cancer has received increasing attention. Several studies demonstrated that induction of apoptosis and cell cycle blockade are typical biologic effects observed in tumor cells after proteasome inhibition."

Researchers Discover Garlic's Ability To Reduce Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Investigators find more evidence that aged garlic extract may significantly benefit those at risk of colon cancer
A new study completed through collaborative efforts by researcher's at Columbia University and the Institute for Cancer Prevention found that an ingredient in Kyolic® Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) helps stop growth of colon cancer cells. The results were published in the October issue of Cancer Research.

Dr. John Thomas Pinto, a leading cancer researcher at the Institute of Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, New York, and Dr. Danhua Xiao at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center of Columbia University, have found that S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC), a water-soluble sulfur compound present in AGE, stops colon cancer cells from dividing. It prevents the formation of small filaments, known as microtubule spindles, that help separate newly formed cells into two new daughter cells. SAMC seems to exert its antigrowth effect by reacting directly with the proteins that form the structure of the spindles and disrupting their assembly. This process stops cancer cells before they can divide and subsequently triggers other proteins within the cell that cause the cancer cell to undergo programmed cell death. This is the first time garlic-derived compounds have been shown to exert their effect by acting directly with specific cell proteins and modifying their function.

"These results can have an important impact on public health, "said Dr. Pinto. "This work demonstrates that individual allium-derived compounds present also in aged garlic extract may act by slowing the rate of progression of established colon cancer cells. Because of its content of SAMC, the study suggests that AGE may also be a useful and beneficial dietary addition for people at risk."

Evidence of garlic's anticarcinogenic role comes from both epidemiologic and laboratory investigations. Case control epidemiological studies in northeast China (You, et al., 1988) and Italy (Buiatti, et al., 1989) showed that there are strong reverse trends in stomach cancer risk with dietary intake of garlic. Similarly, a lower risk of colon cancer for American consumers of garlic was reported in the Iowa Women's Health Study published in 1994 (Steinmetz, et al.). Although the minimum daily intake of garlic required to reduce cancer risk remains to be determined, garlic had been categorized as a dietary anticarcinogen worthy of further investigation.

Numerous other laboratory studies have reported beneficial effects of garlic. Specifically, AGE and its constituents have demonstrated anti cancer effects in many cancer models including bladder tumors, melanoma cells, neuroblastoma cells, skin cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach and lung cancer and erythroleukemia.

More than 350 scientific studies have been completed using AGE. These studies, performed at major universities and research institutes, have focused on various aspects of garlic's health benefits, including cholesterol and high blood pressure lowering effects, homocysteine control and inhibition of LDL oxidation. In addition, garlic helps in decreasing platelet aggregation and adhesion, thus preventing blood cells from clotting too soon, stimulating blood circulation by widening blood vessels, controlling immune response, improving cognitive effects through increasing blood flow to the brain, improving liver function and anti tumor effects.

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This allium vegetable and its derivatives sure can help

In 1998, E. Kyo, et al., tried to demonstrate the ability of garlic extract (aged) to work against tumors by modulating immunity. In a series of studies (test-tube and experimental), the authors showed that this form of garlic extract was able to "stimulate cell-mediated immunity" by: activating natural killer (NK) cells and cancer-killing T cells; by stimulating the release of other immune factors (IL-2, TNG-alpha, IFN-gamma); and by enhancing the Pac-Man-like engulfing of invaders ("phagocytosis") by macrophages. All of these effects effectively held back the growth of certain tumors, such as Lewis lung carcinoma and sarcoma180.


Kyo, E., et al. "Immunomodulation and antitumor activities of aged garlic extract," Phytomedicine 5(4):259-267, 1998.
X. Mei and J. Han compared people in two Chinese counties (in the same province) that have different garlic-eating habits. In Cangshan County, where the average resident eats about 20 g of fresh garlic each day, the incidence of stomach cancer was only 8 percent of that in Qixia County, where less than 1 g per day is the norm.References
Hah, J., et al. "Highlights of the cancer chemoprevention studies in China," Prev Med 22:712-722, 1993.

Mei, X., et al. "Garlic and gastric cancer: the influence of garlic on the level of nitrate and nitrite in gastric juice," Acta Nutr Sin 4:53-56, 1982.

Garlic and garlic-derived supplements have shown anti-cancer (anti-carcinogenic) effects. In this vein, one of its most promising roles may be in the prevention of cancers of the digestive system-colon, stomach, bladder--although garlic may also help to prevent mammary (breast), cervical, and prostate cancers.

Seeing a diet/supplementation association and knowing what is responsible for the prevention are two very different things, however. Some of the mechanisms may include: (1) stimulating certain enzymes that neutralize/disarm cancer triggers; (2) directly blocking the formation of carcinogens, such as nitrites; and by (3) modulating the immune system via antioxidant, free-radical scavenging activity.

There are two main types of studies on garlic and cancer which we'll take a look at: (1) animal/cell-culture studies on garlic and garlic-based supplements, and (2) epidemiological (population-group) studies looking at garlic in the diet.
In the annals of garlic-in-the-diet population studies, a few stand out, in particular. One such study appeared in 1999, and was conducted by C.M. Gao, et al., through the Cancer Institute of Jiangsu Province, in Nanjing, China. This study looked at alllium vegetable consumption (garlic, onion, Welsh onion, and Chinese chives) and the incidence of two types of cancer (esophageal and stomach) in Yangzhong City, a high-risk area for these cancers. In those people who regularly ate the most garlic and allium vegetables, it appears that there is "an important protective effect against not only stomach cancer, but also esophageal cancer."


Gao, C.M., et al. "Protective effect of allium vegetables against both esophageal and stomach cancer; a simultaneous case-referent study of a high-epidemic area in Jiangsu Province, China," Jpn J Cancer Res 90(6):614-621, 1999.
In 1997, researchers at the East Carolina University School of Medicine (Greenville, N.C.) looked at one of the compounds found in garlic extract (aged)--S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC)--on erythroleukemic, breast, and prostate cancers in human cells derived from cord blood. The results? The authors found that SAMC held back cancer spread (and viability) the best in quick-dividing (fast-developing) breast and prostate cancers (steroid-hormone-dependent cancer cell lines).


Sigounas, G., et al. "S-allylmercaptocysteine inhibits cell proliferation and reduces the viability of erythroleukemia, breast, and prostate cancer cell lines," Nutrition and Cancer 27(2):186-191, 1997.
By James J. Gormley