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Garlic and Cancer Prevention

Key Points

1. Research during the past decade has provided a wealth of evidence that links garlic intake and its associated sulfur compounds as an important deterrent to cancer.

2. Both water- and lipid-sulfur allyl sulfur compounds appear to account for much of garlic’s anticarcinogenic and antitumorigenic properties.

3. Some of the strongest evidence comes from preclinical models where garlic and its constituents have been found to retard chemically induced cancer at multiple sites as well as to inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis of established human and murine cell lines.

4. The molecular site of action of the active allyl sulfur compounds accounting for the reduction in cancer risk and/or a change in tumor behavior remains an area of active investigation but clearly multiple cellular processes are likely being modified simultaneously.

5. Evidence exists that the response is related to garlic’s ability to influence carcinogen bioactivation, DNA repair, cell division, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and immunocompetence.