Garlic and Cancer Prevention

The first thing you'll want to know about cancer is that cancer cells are present in our bodies all of the time, even if it's just a small number. To keep them in check, we have several natural defense systems in place that prevent these cells from becoming an aggressive disease.

Your natural defense system includes your immune system and the antioxidant enzymes that your body normally produces. The strength of your defense system depends on the quality of your gene pool and your diet. These factors all contribute to your body's ability to prevent the type of toxic environment that allows tumors to grow.

Research shows that cancer grows best under certain conditions:

  1. When your immune system is weakened and less capable of detecting and destroying new tumors;
  2.  When you're suffering chronic inflammation in your body;
  3. When tumors are allowed to build new blood vessels to feed their growth.

When you prevent these three things from happening, you help create an environment hostile to tumor growth. A diet rich in antioxidants is a crucial part of any anti-cancer plan.

Garlic and Cancer Studies

Studies have shown that garlic may be a valuable tool in cancer prevention. Although there is no conclusive evidence that proves this, an examination of the phytonutrient content of garlic would leave us with good reason to believe that garlic would be a potent anti-cancer food. This is backed up by numerous studies that show that cultures of people who eat a lot of garlic typically have lower rates of cancer.

Other studies have confirmed the presence of compounds in garlic which inhibit the growth and development of cancerous cells. These compounds seem to make cancer cells more vulnerable, leaving them open for your body's immune system to clear them out.

Anti-Cancer Nutrients in Garlic

Many of garlic's nutritional content come directly from the its pungent-scented phytonutrients. Two of the most important types of phytonutrients in garlic are bioflavonoids, which are responsible for their red, yellow, and brown colors, and sulfur compounds that impart the strong flavors.

However, since there are so many phytonutrients in garlic that have not yet been identified, it is very likely that some unknown compounds in garlic may play an important part in fighting cancer.

Allicin and Ajoene — The Anti-Cancer Components in Garlic.
The anti-cancer effects of garlic are most commonly attributed to its allicin content, since allicin and its related compounds have been shown to be the most active ingredients in garlic.

The enzyme ajoene, formed when garlic is crushed or minced, has been shown to shrink the tumors of those suffering from skin cancer. However, if the garlic is heated before the enzyme can form (about 10 minutes), you'll lose the benefits.

What about powdered garlic, or pre-chopped garlic in oil? Most of the research has been done with fresh garlic, but the beneficial enzymes seem to still be present in pre-chopped garlic, if it's packed in oil.

Why would garlic have any benefit against cancer?

  1. The phytonutrient content of garlic, and the variety of them, is second to no other plant food. Phytonutrients are the foundation of any anti-cancer diet.
  2. Garlic promotes the secretion of gastric juice and restores intestinal flora, both of which improve the immune system and reduce your body's susceptibility to cancer.
  3. Garlic is also high in vitamin C and the mineral selenium, which are known to have powerful cancer-prevention properties.

Other Foods to Include
in a Cancer-Prevention Diet

Any food rich in antioxidant content can be a valuable component in your anti-cancer diet. Here are some specific recommendations:

  • herbs and spices: thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, sage, turmeric, ginger
  • foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, sardines, nuts and seeds
  • cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
  • onions, leeks
  • all types of berries
  • green tea and pomegranate juice

Garlic and Cancer — Conclusions

• Because cancer is a multi-dimensional degenerative disease, you can't expect any one food to prevent cancer all on its own. A well-balanced diet low in animal protein and dairy, with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, is your best bet for cancer prevention.

• By the time a cancerous tumor starts to grow, the body is already in a serious state of toxicity. The best solution is to not let your body get into a state that would promote tumor growth.

• All the evidence points to garlic being an excellent supporting weapon in your cancer-fighting arsenal. In fact, garlic is extremely useful for fighting any disease and boosting your overall health.

• Based on the studies that have been done, we can safely say that garlic does have some anti-cancer properties. How powerful these properties are will probably never be known for sure. In the meantime, adding garlic to your diet will certainly provide numerous other health benefits that you don't want to miss. You would do well to find ways to increase your intake of this wonderful herb.

Buying Recommendations for Garlic

Fresh garlic is, of course, best. If you're going to use garlic powder daily, you'll need to get more than those small bottles you see at the supermarket. Those won't go far and will cost much more by the pound than if you buy in bulk. Fortunately, I've got a wonderful source online for premium-quality organic garlic powder from Starwest Botanicals.

Starwest Botanicals started as a small retail herb shop in 1975 in Sacramento, California. From the beginning, they chose to focus on quality, and built their own herb mill to have more control over the finished products.

Today, Starwest is one of the largest suppliers of organic herbs in the United States, with over a million pounds of herbs and spices in stock. Get the best price on their premium-quality organic garlic powder by clicking on the graphic to the right.

Use Garlic Supplements Instead

"Garlic breath" is something that most people want to avoid, so they only eat garlic sparingly, if at all. Fortunately, garlic capsules are made to give you all of the benefits of eating garlic without the social drawbacks.

For over 50 years, the Wakunaga company of Japan, makers of the Kyolic brand of garlic supplements, has been the standard-bearer of garlic supplements. They make dozens of garlic products with different formulations for specific health conditions. You can learn more about them at

Other pages on this website about garlic:

Benefits of Garlic Supplements

Garlic Health Benefits

Garlic and Heart Disease

History of Garlic

Click on any of the following links to get specific information on
the health benefits of spices and herbs:

basil | cloves | cilantro | cinnamon | cayenne | cumin
fennel | fenugreek | ginger | parsley | oregano | peppermint
rosemary | sage | thyme | turmeric

Health Benefits of Spices

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