Apart from being a natural antibiotic, garlic has antiviral properties and can also help destroy intestinal worms and parasites.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), consuming a fresh clove of garlic everyday is good for the human body in more ways than one. Apart from being a flavorful herb that adds a unique aroma to food, it is reportedly found to be helpful in preventing cancer. The following Buzzle article enlightens you with some scientific testimonials that project garlic as a potential chemo prevention agent.
What Scientific Studies Have Revealed
A recent study conducted by the researchers of the Jiangsu Provincial Center For Disease Control And Prevention in China and published in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research confirms the helpful role played by raw garlic in slashing lung cancer risk.
The benefits of garlic is not limited to nonsmokers but is also extended to smokers, suggesting its potent anti-cancer properties. The study called Raw Garlic Consumption as a Protective Factor for Lung Cancer, a Population-Based Case-Control Study in a Chinese Population not only highlights the cancer risk-lowering association of garlic but also outlines its specific potency in being able to prevent lung cancer.
In the said study, the researchers conducted interview sessions with two groups of people between 2003 and 2010. The first group consisted of 1,424 people affected with lung cancer while the second group had 4,543 healthy individuals. Each person was inquired about his regular diet and extent of tobacco usage. The researchers were particularly keen to know about their consumption of garlic and smoking habits.
The data collected was thoroughly examined to look for any association between lung cancer and consumption of raw garlic. The researchers found that nonsmokers who ate raw garlic regularly had 44% less chances of developing lung cancer. On the other hand, smokers showed 30% less chances of getting lung cancer, thanks to their intake of raw garlic. Thus, the herb appears to be effective in lowering cancer risk even in smokers. The following is an excerpt from the abstract of the study:
After adjusting for potential confounding factors, raw garlic consumption of 2 times or more per week is inversely associated with lung cancer ... In conclusion, protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo preventive agent for lung cancer. Effective components in garlic in lung cancer chemoprevention warrant further in-depth investigation.
In the studies conducted at the National Cancer Institute, it was observed that consuming high amounts of garlic slashed pancreatic cancer risk by more than half. A daily intake of over 10 grams of veggies and herbs belonging to the allium family of plants, such as garlic, onions, and leeks, has, therefore, been linked to 50% lesser chances of prostate and colon cancer.
A large-scale study in China revealed that people who consume a combined dose of garlic and selenium are 52% less likely to develop stomach cancer and 33% less vulnerable towards any type of cancer.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina found that people who ate cooked or raw garlic on a regular basis exhibited approximately a 65% reduction in colorectal cancer vulnerability. This study further strengthened the link between garlic and reduced cancer risk.
What is Believed to Make Garlic so Potent?
It is believed that sulfur compounds found in garlic are contributing to combat cancer.
More specifically, garlic contains allyl sulfides that are categorized as phytonutrients, plant compounds known to promote health. Allyl sulfides are thought to be responsible for preventing, disrupting, and inhibiting cancerous activity in the body. They assist in flushing out carcinogens and even promote the death of cancer cells. These sulfur-containing compounds appear to also slow down the progression of certain cancers, including prostate, colon, and stomach cancers.
The Verdict
There is no doubt that a large number of studies indicate that the regular consumption of garlic provides apparent protection against cancer. However, all these are population-based studies in which subjects were chosen from specific demographic groups and scrutinized. Findings of such studies may be influenced by other unknown factors and hence results invariably need to be confirmed through clinical trials. In these trials, a research team recruits a group of people and instructs them to have either the substance under consideration (like garlic in this case) or a placebo and then compares the results. The evidence from clinical trials are most reliable and trustworthy as they employ hardcore scientific methods that help eliminate as many loopholes as possible in order to analyze the substance being tested. Unfortunately, the anti-cancer benefits of ginger are not supported by clinical trials. Few clinical studies that reviewed garlic supplements did not show any satisfactory results.

Although preliminary studies are promising, further clinical studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of garlic in preventing cancer. So, including moderated amounts of garlic in meals is recommended. Garlic has a lot of benefits to offer. It is always better to have raw garlic than cooked. Garlic loses some of its medicinal virtues when cooked. You can chop up a fresh clove and simply add it to salads to reap its benefits optimally.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.